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SISTER JANE, HER FRIENDS AND AC- 
QUAINTANCES. A Narrative of Certain 
Events and Episodes transcribed from the 
Papers of the late William Womum. Crown 
Svo, ^1.50. 

HOUGHTON, MIFFLIN & CO. 
Boston and New York. 



SISTER JANE 



HER FRIENDS AND ACQUAINTANCES 



A NARRATIVE OF CERTAIN EVENTS AND 

EPISODES TRANSCRIBED FROM THE PAPERS 

OF THE LATE WILLIAM WORNUM 



JOEL CHANDLER HARRIS 




BOSTON AND NEW YORK 

HOUGHTON, MIFFLIN AND COMPANY 

m^t Bitierjsibe pte?^, Cambtittse 

1896 

E.V, 



\^(o5\2k 



Copyright, 1896, 
By JOEL CHANDLER HARRIS. 

All rights reserved. 



The Biverside Press, Cambridge, Mass., U. S. A. 
Blectrotyped and Printed by H. O. Houghton & Co, 



CONTENTS 



I. A Quiet Place 

II. An Old Fbiend .... 

III. What the Stokm left at our Door 

IV. The Baby is put to Bed 

V. Sistee Jane takes Boabdeks 
VI. Miss Maby Bullaed .... 
VII. The Pictubks on the Wall 
VIII. The Cikcus comes to Town . 
IX. A Child is lost .... 
X. Free Betsey runs the Cards 
XI. Two Old Friends and Another 
XII. The Mantle of Charity . 

XIII. Jincy Meadows comes a-oalling 

XIV. The Colonel's Wipe 
XV. Jincy in the New Geound 

XVI. A Period of Calm .... 
XVII. The Peeacher and the Seemon 
XVIII. A New Boarder at Sister Jane's 
XIX. The Lad's Ride .... 
XX. Memories of Clarence Bullaed . 

XXI. Two Steangees arrive 

XXII. An Angey Woman 

XXIII. Colonel Bullaed's Troubles . 

XXIV. The End of the Skein . 



Page 

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16 

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44 

. 54 

68 

. 83 

98 

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130 
. 14.5 

159 
. 175 

193 
. 213 

223 
. 23G 

252 
. 268 

283 
. 298 

314 
. 329 

347 



SISTER JANE. 



I. 

A QUIET PLACE. 



A QUIET place and the quietest spot in the quiet 
place — these were my delight as soon as I discov- 
ered that life had no great honors in store for me. 
And this discovery was made early. There was 
plenty of ambition to urge me on, but the ends it 
aimed at were vague and shadowy. I would be 
a noted physician, a great lawyer, or a renowned 
statesman; I would be a writer of books, an ex- 
plorer, a famous soldier. 'Twas all a passing 
fancy — a dream to breed pleasant recollections 
instead of useless regrets. If opportunity came, 
I knew it not; it made no noise at my door; there 
was no fluttering of wings at my window. No 
matter in what direction vague desires carried my 
feet, in the end I always sighed for the quiet little 
side porch, shaded by a honeysuckle vine, or for 
the snug little room behind the porch where so 
many years of my life had been spent. They 
were the years of my youth and of my young 
manhood, and somehow I could not be brought 



2 SJSTER JANE. 

to believe they had been wasted, though now, at 
thirty-five, I was nothing more than a modest 
practitioner in the Superior courts of the Oconee 
circuit. 

The little porch and the cosy room behind it 
belonged to a rambling one-story house standing 
sidewise to one of the two main thoroughfares of 
the village. The building had been a small cot- 
tage of three rooms, in which my father dwelt 
and carried on the tailoring business; but in times 
of prosperity he had had the forethought to add 
four more rooms, so that now the house was in 
the shape of a big U, its head facing the street 
and its heels stretching toward a garden that ran 
behind the house and behind the stores that were 
ranged along the southern angle of the street. 
The sign, "William Wornum, Tailoring," hung 
on the corner next to the little porch for several 
years after my father's death, but one windy night 
it came clattering down, and was stored away 
among the small stock of family relics. 

My sister Jane was the only mother I had ever 
known. She was the eldest by twelve years, and 
most nobly and fitly did she fulfil the duties that 
Providence imposed upon her. Whatever sacri- 
fices she was called on to make — and they were 
many — she made with an eagerness that went 
beyond anything of the kind I have ever seen, or 
ever expect to see, in thi^ world. Our father 
had had his little weaknesses — weaknesses that 
are sometimes a sore trial to a sensitive and lov- 



A QUIET PLACE. 3 

ing heart, but they were all condoned and freely 
forgiven. In this way sister Jane became grounded 
in experience, so far as the demands of an exact- 
ing household go, long before she had grown even 
to young womanhood. It is perhaps due to the 
doubts, perplexities, and responsibilities that shut 
her out from the ordinary pleasures and enjoy- 
ments that should belong to the life of a young 
girl, that her tongue and temper were somewhat 
sharper than they should have been. To those 
who knew her those characteristics were but the 
twang and flavor that told of the kindest heart 
and openest hand that ever woman had. 

My father died when both his son and daugh- 
ter were old enough to face the small world of the 
village in which they were born and reared. 
They buried his weaknesses with him, and thanked 
heaven that his failings had taken no serious turn. 
For he was faithful to his children, industrious, 
economical, and, besides the house that he had 
bought and paid for, and to which he had made 
additions from time to time, he left a com- 
petence, which, though modest, was sufficient to 
make my sister comfortable the rest of her days. 
Moreover, he had taken pains at odd hours to 
teach her how to make men's clothing, and such 
was her aptitude that, when he died, she might 
have kept up the tailoring business with as much 
success as, or even more than, our father had won. 
But she contented herself with obliging only the 
best of village customers, or those whom (accord- 



4 SISTER JANE. 

ing to some mysterious rule of lier own) she had 
conceived a liking for; for I have known her to 
sit late at night over a frock-coat for some one 
who had no thought of paying even the small- 
est part of his debts: on the other hand, I have 
seen her refuse, with a vigor almost impolite, to 
sew for those who came with money in their 
hands. 

On these occasions I said nothing, for I knew 
that her reasons, however illogical they might be, 
were good and sufficient from her point of view. 
Logic becomes almost impertinent when it begins 
to strut before the door of views and beliefs that 
are unchangeable. So far as sister Jane was 
concerned, the whole village knew of her peculiar- 
ities, her strong will, her firm opinions, and the 
sharp flavor she conveyed into the most ordinary 
discussions ; the whole village knew of these, but 
only a few knew how thin and frail a partition 
stood fluttering between the shrewd tongue and 
the tender heart. None knew as I knew — none 
could know. 

Verging on years of age my sister was still 
plain Jane Wornum. Her hair was turning gray, 
but her eye was as bright and her step as firm as 
ever. Her features were strong, but not coarse. 
She had the heartiest laugh ever heard, when in 
the humor, but it was not wasted on everything 
that came to her ears or fell under her observa- 
tion. She had a firm chin, and lips that were 
ready at all times and under all circumstances 



A QUIET PLACE. 5 

to frame the decisive word. She never had an 
affair of the heart, such as we read of in books. 
I used to say to myself that if she had caught 
Master Cupid hiding in her rose bed, she would 
have run him off the place at the point of the 
broomstick, much as if he were a stray cat. She 
expressed supreme contempt for men who had no 
knack of getting along in the world, but secretly 
pitied them. 

As for myself — well, I am not writing my own 
history. My place is in the background of the 
events and episodes that are to be mentioned in 
this chronicle. It may be said of them here that 
they attracted my attention without seriously dis- 
turbing my repose. There is much that is preten- 
tious in the altitude that is called philosophical; 
but it is a fact well attested that the birds sing as 
sweetly, the roses flare forth as proudly, and the 
wind that steals through the honeysuckle vine is 
as odorous after a moral cataclysm or a physical 
disturbance as they were before. 

My own little porch was my point of view in 
pleasant weather, and when the rain or the cold 
season came, there was the window that opened 
on the porch and looked beyond it. This arrange- 
ment did not face the street, but lay sidewise to 
it. You opened a wicket gate, went forward five 
paces, mounted three small steps that led to the 
porch, turned sharply to the right, and there you 
found yourself at the door of the room, which was 
always open in pleasant weather until long after 



6 SISTER JANE. 

the nine o'clock bell had rung. Beyond the door 
was the window I have spoken of, and a few 
inches farther the honeysuckle vine hung its frag- 
rant curtain. The porch was so small that there 
was room only for a wooden seat that was built 
along the side, and for the cushioned rocker in 
which I sat. Sometimes during the summer even- 
ings the seat was occupied by my sister Jane, 
but for the most part my sole companion was 
Tommy Tinkins, the large yellow house cat, who 
was either too old or too lazy to waste his nights 
in prowling. The only occasion on which he dis- 
played anything like energy was when his domain 
was invaded by some strange Tommy. At such 
times Tinkins would slip quietly from the wooden 
seat and rush into the garden, from which pres- 
ently would issue a series of blood-curdling yowls. 
Then, after escorting the intruder from the prem- 
ises at race-course speed, Tinkins would return 
soberly to his place on the bench and proceed to 
celebrate his victory by washing his face. But 
as a rule, in spite of this occasional display of 
energy, Tommy Tinkins was buried too deep in 
his own reflections after nightfall to pay much 
attention to passing events. 

The old cat, sleek and lazy, was a great favor- 
ite with my sister Jane. She had rescued him 
from a crowd of negro children when he was 
a small and disreputable-looking kitten, and he 
repaid the care and attention by an aifection that 
was as complete and as touching as anything of 



A QUIET PLACE. 7 

the kind I have ever seen. He had a peculiarity 
which, although it is possessed by some animals, 
was developed in Tommy Tinkins to a degree that 
was amazing. He was an infallible reader of 
human character. He knew instinctively whether 
a person had mean traits or good ones. Sister 
Jane found out this gift long before I did. She 
knew by the action of the cat whether to trust or 
distrust an acquaintance or a stranger; and it 
finally came to be a matter of common observation 
with both of us. Whether we* would or no, the 
Tommy Tinkins test was applied to all who crossed 
our threshold — to old and young, to familiars as 
well as strangers. If the cat showed a disposition 
to run away, or took refuge under sister Jane's 
chair, the person who was the cause of this distur- 
bance was not to be taken into our confidence 
or trusted in any way. On the other hand, if 
Tommy Tinkins made friendly advances and be- 
trayed his satisfaction by walking around, rub- 
bing against chair legs and purring complacently, 
the person who was the source of the manifesta- 
tions was entirely worthy of confidence. 

In this way, at one time and another, we came 
to know all our neighbors and acquaintances as 
well as they knew themselves, and when some one 
in the village went wrong it was a common thing 
for sister Jane to exclaim, with an appearance 
almost of satisfaction: "What did Tommy Tin- 
kins tell you? " One by one the cat's predictions 
(if they may be so called) came true; but there 



8 SrSTER JANE. 

was one exception which I felt and said must, in 
the nature of things, remain an exception. It 
was the case of our good friend, Colonel Cephas 
Bullard, who, although he lived at the far end of 
the block, was our nearest neighbor. Our home, 
as I may have stated before, was next to the stores 
and shops that ran along the southern side of the 
square, facing the stuccoed courthouse, and front- 
ing the thoroughfare that ran at right angles with 
our own. On the northern corner of the square 
stood Colonel Bullard 's fine mansion, and between 
our humble home and his lay the large garden. 
The greater part of this garden belonged to Col- 
onel Cephas, but there was no fence or other 
boundary -mark to show where his land began and 
ours ended. He knew and we knew that he had 
so many feet of land ; we knew and he knew that 
we had so many feet ; and, as there was no room 
for contention, so there was no need of a bound- 
ary-mark. We planted asparagus and bachelor's 
buttons on his ground, and he had planted his 
favorite coleworts and made a bed of violets on 
ours. It was the hand of his daughter Mary that 
planted and tended, the violets; but no matter; I 
have mentioned the fact only to show the relations 
between the two families. When people use each 
other's land indiscriminately they must be on the 
best of terms. "Neighborly dealing makes neigh- 
borly feeling," as I have heard sister Jane say a 
hundred times. 

But where Colonel Bullard was concerned, nei- 



A aXJIET PLACE. 9 

ther neighborly feeling nor neighborly dealing 
had any influence on Tommy Tinkins, the cat. 
From the days of his innocent kittenhood (when 
he chased his shadow in the sunshine, or his tail 
in the shade) to the years of his sober maturity, 
the appearance of Colonel BuUard in the garden 
or on the sidewalk was the signal for Tommy 
Tinkins to disappear under the house or under 
the bed. And he only ventured forth from his 
hiding place with extreme caution, looking care- 
fully about in all directions, and holding himself 
ready to vanish if he heard the colonel's voice. 

I had small patience with Tommy Tinkins's 
panic-stricken behavior in so far as it concerned 
Colonel BuUard, and I often chided the cat in 
round terms for running away from so amiable a 
gentleman and so friendly a neighbor. But sister 
Jane said nothing, and my chiding had no effect 
on Tommy Tinkins, who was repose itself until 
the colonel's measured tread sounded on the grav- 
eled garden-walk. When that came to his ears 
he seemed to be charged with all the energy that 
fear can give rise to. In spite of this Colonel 
Cephas BuUard was one of the most affable of 
men. I have frequently heard sister Jane say 
that she wouldn't be afraid to meet the colonel's 
ghost at the dead hour of night. "It couldn't 
help being polite and nice," she explained. 

And, indeed, if actions count for anything, the 
colonel merited the respect and esteem that he 
had won in the community and all the praise that 



10 SISTER JANE. 

his name suggested. It is easy to be affable; 
society has never invented a thinner mask than 
the formal politeness it has given currency to; 
but Colonel Cephas BuUard was something more 
than affable. His politeness had the old-time 
flavor of sincerity. If his manner sometimes had 
the appearance of condescension, it was because 
of his natural dignity. His benevolence was well 
known, and his charity was so gentle that his 
voice always sank to a whisper when he protested 
against the attacks that anonymous gossip fre- 
quently makes on our neighbors and acquaintances. 
He was deeply religious ; he was a class-leader in 
his church, superintendent of the Sunday-school, 
and, in that capacity, frequently delivered the 
most elevated and profitable lectures to the young 
people. He had a fine baritone voice, which he 
employed with fine effect in leading the congrega- 
tional singing ; and rumor went that in his young 
days he was proficient with both the violin and 
the flute, but these he had laid wholly aside on 
account of their worldly use and reputation. I 
never passed him on the street, nor did I ever 
know him to go by our door, but he was humming 
a sacred tune. Even between the pauses of con- 
versation, I have heard him hum a bar or two 
from some air to be found in the "Golden Harp," 
and I used to say to myself, "Truly, here is a 
man who has set his piety to sweet melodies.'* 

The personal appearance of Colonel Cephas 
BuUard fitted his character like a glove. He was 



A QUIET PLACE. 11 

tall and straight as a soldier. His hair, which 
had been auburn, had turned to what sister Jane 
called "a pepper and salt" color. He was not 
portly, neither was he lean. Over his prominent 
nose he wore spectacles. Behind his glasses (I 
never saw them otherwise except on one memo- 
rable occasion), his eyes were of a cold gray color. 
His face, which was smooth and round enough to 
be handsome, wore a complacent smile, as was 
becoming to a man who was at peace with his 
Maker and all the world. His title of colonel 
was not a military one, although, as I have said, 
he had the stature and carriage of a soldier. It 
was purely a title of respect, a mark of the esteem 
in which he was held by his friends and neighbors, 
a tribute to his moral and business qualities. 
True, it was a feeble mark of respect, and a very 
small tribute, but it seemed to please him. He 
accepted it, and adorned it. And truly he had 
the appearance of a real colonel as he walked 
along the street wearing his broadcloth suit, his 
Marseilles waistcoat, his black satin stock, flourish- 
ing his gold-headed cane and bowing kindly to all 
whom he chanced to meet. 

His wife was a pale little woman, who rarely 
went out of the house. Sometimes, when twilight 
had taken possession of the garden, she would 
glide swiftly through the shrubbery, and have a 
few minutes' friendly chat with sister Jane. But 
she usually talked in a tone of voice hardly lifted 
above a whisper, as if she were afraid some one 



12 SISTER JANE. 

would recognize her voice, and she always seemed 
to be in a hurry to run home before any one had 
missed her. One peculiarity she had was that 
she either laid one hand on sister Jane's arm 
while talking, or touched it lightly with her fore- 
finger whenever she desired to emphasize a word. 
She had a beautiful hand and wore some very 
large and showy jewels on her fingers. She must 
have been a very beautiful girl, but now there 
was a weary look in her eyes that told either of 
invalidism or trouble; and yet there was some- 
thing about her that suggested friskiness. 'T was 
either a trick of the mouth or a turn of the hand. 
Whether from choice or no, she lived a secluded 
life; but on rare occasions she was to be seen 
riding out in the family carriage, and when the 
Methodists held a meeting, she was to be seen 
at church, though I have heard it said she was a 
Presbyterian at heart. 

When my reflections ran in the direction of the 
colonel's wife I invariably found myself wrangling 
with the problem she presented. The more so as 
Tommy Tinkins afforded no clew whatever to her 
character. The cat neither ran away at the sound 
of her voice, nor made any display of satisfaction 
when she came. Sister Jane was as much puzzled 
as I was, for she always called her "That poor 
creature," and I have noticed that when one 
woman fails to understand another with whom she 
is on friendly terms, she ends by pitying her. 

There was another member of Colonel BuUard's 



A QUIET PLACE. 13 

family that was more interesting than either the 
colonel or his wife — their daughter Mary. She 
was a study for those who love beauty for its own 
sake, as well as for the more serious-minded who 
watch with expectant eyes the slow but sure 
unfolding of the flower of womanhood. I had 
dandled Mary on my knee when she was a child, 
and twenty times a day she used to run to me for 
aid, for advice in her troubles, or for comfort in 
her childish sorrows. Until she was twelve, and 
I had turned twenty, we were companions and 
playmates, and then she went away to reap such 
advantages as are to be found in a young ladies' 
seminary. When she returned to spend her first 
vacation she was still, in a sense, the same girl 
who had gone away six months before. But she 
was never the same after that. She was friendly, 
even cordial, but there was a difference. We had 
no more romps among the rose bushes; indeed, it 
would have been unseemly for an old fellow to be 
seen capering around; nevertheless I felt some- 
what hurt at the various manifestations of in- 
difference that the young lady took no pains to 
conceal. Being sensitive and somewhat diffident 
where the women are concerned, I drew myself 
within my shell, took "Urn Burial" from the 
book case, and mentally bade farewell to the child 
that had given place to a beautiful young girl. 

Then came a year or two at some finishing 
school in Philadelphia, and, behold! instead of 
the beautiful young girl who had gone away, 



14 SISTJEB JANE. 

there returned to the village and her friends a 
more beautiful young woman. To me, whose 
memory had been so steadfastly fixed on the girl, 
the woman was a dazzling revelation. A miracle 
had been performed and nature had made no fuss 
over it. I watched this young woman, who had 
sprung from the germ of the girl I had known, 
with emotions impossible to describe. But chief 
among them all were astonishment and a bewil- 
dering sense of loss — a sense of having been 
cheated out of some precious possession. Strange 
to say, this young woman, who had returned to 
dazzle us all, made no show of pride or affecta- 
tion. She was as simple and as natural as she 
had been when a little girl; she brought back 
with her none of those airs that seem to stick, 
like cockle - burrs on a sheep, to many young 
ladies who have had the advantages of the finish- 
ing schools; and, withal, she had a natural dig- 
nity of manner that made a charming foil for 
her frankness. 

Her attitude toward me also underwent a kalei- 
doscopic change. Where she had been cool and 
indifferent she was now friendly, and she discov- 
ered to me by many pleasant allusions that she 
had not forgotten the time when she poured all 
her childish troubles in my ear. But the day had 
passed when I found myself at ease in her pres- 
ence, and when she ran in to see sister Jane, which 
she never failed to do at least once a day, I was 
happy if I chanced to be in my room or in the 



A QUIET PLACE. 15 

little porch, where, unembarrassed, I might listen 
to the clear tones of her voice and picture to 
myself each little gesture she might be making; 
how she was holding her head, and when she was 
smiling. In her presence I felt awkward, old, 
and unhappy. She carried with her an atmo- 
sphere so entirely different from that in which I 
had always moved — she imparted so much light, 
and warmth, and color to our dull and prosy sur- 
roundings — that I was always glad to return to 
the solitude that gave me a world of my own, 
where, as the humor chanced to seize me, I might 
be president, dictator, or emperor, and where all 
the treasures of the world were mine if I might 
choose to appropriate them. I was more than 
content if, concealed by the porch and the fra- 
grant honeysuckle screen, I might watch her mov- 
ing about the garden, making the flowers more 
precious by her presence, or romping with her 
little brother, a toddler of uncertain age — her 
movements as graceful as if she were borne along 
on wings. Many and many a time I have seen 
her press a rose to her lips and blush at some new 
thought that blossomed in her innocent breast. 

And so the days went by, she radiant and happy 
and making all things lovelier by her happiness, 
sister Jane busy and critical, and I reasonably 
comfortable, but somewhat disturbed by a vague 
uneasiness that had never troubled me before. 



II. 

AN OLD FRIEND. 

Let it not be supposed that my sister Jane and 
myself led a lonely life. We had more company 
than we sometimes found comfortable, and might 
easily have enlarged the list of those who seemed 
to find a pleasure in visiting us. But, for the 
most part, we were sufficient to ourselves — sister 
Jane with her sewing and I with my ruminations 
and reflections. We cared neither for the small 
gossip of the town nor for the large questions of 
politics, being content to feel 'that the gossip was 
unprofitable, and that the great questions would 
settle themselves sooner or later. Howbeit, we 
had one caller who was as persistent as the seasons 
themselves. This was Mrs. SaUy Beshears. Hot 
or cold, wet or dry, we knew when evening fell 
and the hands of the old brass time-piece began to 
turn to eight o'clock, that Mrs. Beshears would 
come limping along the sidewalk and lift the latch 
of the gate that opened near the porch. 

When the latch clicked on the stroke of eight, 
sister Jane would say, "There's Sally. I hope 
she won't want me to give her nigger boy another 
biscuit to-night." Then a light rap would fall on 



^A^ OLD FRIEND. 17 

the outer door, and Mrs. Beshears would come in 
leaning on her walking-stick, saying, "I believe 
in my soul you 've all gone to bed." Then as she 
opened the inner door, "Why, no, you haven't, 
but it 's a wonder." And in Mrs. Beshears would 
walk, followed by the small negro boy, who trot- 
ted after her wherever she went. 

" Come in, Sally, and take off your things and 
stay a while," sister Jane would say. "Make 
that nigger fetch you a chair — I 've got this press- 
board on my lap, or I'd fetch it myself." 

It was the same thing over and over again even- 
ing after evening, and yet somehow we never tired 
of Mrs. Beshears. She was older than my sister, 
being above sixty, and but for the fact that there 
was a halt in her walk, the result of a fall, she 
was as pert as a woman of forty. She had a keen 
eye, a resolute mind and sharp tongue, as many 
people knew. Observation had done for her what 
the best education fails to do for the great major- 
ity of mankind. Her knowledge and her humor 
gave a spice to her conversation that I can remem- 
ber and appreciate, but cannot hope to faithfully 
report. She was a woman of some property, 
which was held in common by her and two older 
sisters, — Miss Polly and Miss Becky Pike, — 
one seventy-five and the other eighty. Their 
place, indeed, was something of a plantation, 
covering above five hundred acres of good land, 
just outside the corporate limits of the village. 
In addition to this they owned twenty-five or 



18 SISTEE JANE. 

thirty sleek-looking negroes, who, according to 
report, worked when in the humor and played 
when they pleased. The dweUing-house and all 
the out-houses were relics of the days when the 
country round about was a wilderness. They were 
substantial, but were built of logs, and the chim- 
neys were made of rough stones and mud. The 
hand of time that tumbles all material things 
about, had touched these old chimneys with some 
severity. The rains had eaten away the mud in 
the parts that were exposed to the weather, and 
they presented a jagged and grinning front to the 
passer-by. All things about the place were of the 
most primitive character, so that they gave rise 
to solemn thoughts, such as haunt and sometimes 
overwhelm us in old graveyards, teUing us of the 
brevity of life and the mutations of time. 

Two Sundays in the year, and sometimes on 
the Fourth of July, my sister Jane and myself 
were in the habit of spending the day with Mrs. 
Beshears and her two sisters. Miss Polly and Miss 
Becky. These old ladies were spinsters, but the 
energy and individuality of the family were cen- 
tered in Mrs. Beshears, and Miss Polly and Miss 
Becky remained in such seclusion that their names 
and even their existence had been forgotten by 
many people to whom they had once been known. 
Miss Polly was tall and fat, and Miss Becky was 
tall and lean. Their hands trembled so that a 
negro boy had to light their pipes for them. But 
they were both good-humored and seemed to be 



AN OLD FRIEND. 19 

sincerely glad when we went to see them. Their 
dining-room was apart from the dwelling, and I 
never had dinner there but the chief feature of 
the meal was roast goose, over which sister Jane 
said grace with unction. 

Sometimes Mrs. Beshears would ask me to 
walk with her about the place to look at the 
fowls, the pigs and the horses. "Folks ask me 
why I don't have the place fixed up," she would 
say; "but who on earth shaU. I fix it up for? 
Pap started to fix it up, but he took sick and died ; 
and then Uriah," (her husband) "he begun to fix 
it up, and he took sick and died. It 's the living 
truth. Now, whoever wants to fix it up is wel- 
come to try it. I 'm old and ugly, but I don't 
want to be put on my cooling-board on account of 
driving a new set of nails in the front palings." 
I could but acknowledge that there was a good 
deal of truth at the bottom of Mrs. Beshears's 
remark, leaving the omen altogether out of view. 
Why should these old people go to the trouble of 
putting up new fences and new gates ? They had 
no heirs and cared nothing about appearances. 
Moreover the Cherokee rose was rapidly cover- 
ing the broken-down fences with its glistening 
green shield and its fragrant white flowers. 

While it was in the nature of a holiday excur- 
sion for sister Jane and myself to visit Mrs. 
Beshears, yet it was not pleasing to sit and listen 
to the wandering and random talk of the two old 
women — Miss Polly and Miss Becky — now verg- 



20 SISTER JANE. 

ing on, if they had not already entered, their sec- 
ond childhood. There is a certain charm to be 
found in the melancholy that is pressed home upon 
you in many of the pages of Sir Thomas Browne. 
To read of the futility of fame and reputation, 
and to take it home to your reflections in the soli- 
tude of your room, are matters that appeal to the 
imagination. But to be brought face to face with 
the futility of life itself in the presence of these 
old ladies left no room or excuse for the perform- 
ance of the imagination. Here mortality, with 
its own hands, had torn off the thin mask under 
which it parades, showing the grim and unseason- 
able reality. I doubt not the lesson would be 
wholesome to those who have not the knack of 
reflection; but, as for me, I preferred to be mel- 
ancholy in my own way and at my own pleasure. 

Sister Jane, who was more practical, perhaps, 
seemed to take pleasure in talking to Miss Polly 
and Miss Becky, and the conversation sometimes 
took such strange terms that I felt in my bones 
she was experimenting with their faculties, see- 
ing how far they had fallen into decay. Fre- 
quently they would fall to laughing at nothing, 
and continue in the fit until the tears ran from 
their eyes. On one occasion Miss Polly suddenly 
remarked : — 

"La! haven't you heard? Sally's about to git 
married." 

I expected an explosion from Mrs. Beshears, 
but she only said, "Yes, Jane, and they are both 
as jealous as they can be." 



AN OLD FRIEND. 21 

"La! no, we ain't neither," exclaimed Miss 
Becky, bridling. "You may marry who you 
please, but narry thrip of our money do you git." 

"It's as much mine as it is yours," remarked 
Miss Polly. 

"I don't care if 'tis," said Miss Becky; "sAe 
won't git a thrip of it when she comes a-bringin' 
a young feller around here a-honeyin' and a-hug- 
gin'." 

"Do you reckon she 's really fixing to get mar- 
ried?" Sister Jane asked, pretending to be very 
serious. 

"If she ain't," cried Miss Becky, "what under 
the sun is she trapsein' and troUopin' up town for 
every night the Lord sends? " 

"Why, she comes to see me," replied sister, as 
much amazed as amused. 

Here Miss Becky transferred her pipe from her 
mouth to her trembling hands, closed her eyes, 
and began to nod her head emphatically. " Sally 
may tell you that," she said, solemnly, "and you 
may believe it; but she can't fool us, and she 
won't git narry thrip of our money." 

"Much money you've got!" exclaimed Mrs. 
Beshears, with kindly sarcasm. 

"She thinks she's mighty smart," said Miss 
Becky, readiing over and touching Miss Polly on 
the knee. 

"Don't she, though! " exclaimed Miss Polly. 

I was curious to know how Mrs. Beshears would 
compose this senseless quarrel ; but 't was the 



22 SISTER JANE. 

easiest thing in the world. She placed her hands 
over her face, sighed deeply, and turned to sister 
Jane with an air too solemn to be duplicated on 
the stage. 

"Jane," said she, "there 's a vacant room at 
your house. It 's not a big room, but it 's big 
enough for me. I '11 just send my things up there 
and come along myself after supper. As I 'm not 
wanted here, I 'U go with you. "We '11 see, then, 
if money will wake the niggers in the morning, 
and make PoUy's and Becky's coffee and sweeten 
it. There 's too much money here for me." 

By this time Miss Polly and Miss Becky were 
sobbing, and if their tears had meant anything 
more than the tears of children mean, I should 
have laid the matter up against Mrs. Beshears in 
my mind; but she soothed them at once, and in 
a minute they were laughing as blithely as they 
had been crying bitterly, and with no more excuse 
in one case than in the other. So that when sister 
Jane and myself bade them good-bye on that par- 
ticular occasion, I carried away a better opinion 
of Mrs. Beshears than I had ever had before. 
My first impressions of her, formed long ago, 
were not of the best. Out of sight and hearing 
of her two sisters she had a hectoring way, and I 
think it was her natural way. Her voice was 
harsh, and she had a way of saying things that 
left a sting. But, after the incident I have 
related, I was no longer surprised that Tommy 
Tinkins, the cat, should be so anxious to run and 



AN OLD FRIEND. 23 

greet her when she came, his tail carried as erect 
as a battle-flag, and his back curved upward to 
meet the hand that was always ready to give him 
a friendly touch. I knew, too, that when she had 
put her aged and decrepit children to bed the im- 
pulse to escape from her surroundings, by visiting 
sister Jane, was more than she could resist; and 
so it happened that her company came to be as 
agreeable to me at last as it had been to sister 
Jane from the first. 

She always called me William, having known 
me from a child, and seemed to keep a watchful 
eye on my moods, for when, as sometimes hap- 
pened, I remained in the room after she came, 
instead of going to my own, she would say at 
precisely the right moment: "Well, William, 
you can go and do your moping by yourself. 
Jane and I have some matters that we want to 
talk about." This took from me the excuse of 
politeness and sent me off whether or no, for 
which I was duly grateful. Many a time I have 
listened and waited for sister Jane and Mrs. 
Beshears to lower their voices in talking over 
these confidential "matters." But they kept right 
on in the old familiar strain, and in this way I 
found that Mrs. Beshears's confidential "matters " 
were purely mythical, invented for the purpose of 
giving me an excuse to return to my books or my 
reflections, as whim or fancy might lead me. 

I could sit in my room or on the little porch 
and hear every word the two old friends said, and 



24 SISTER JANE. 

was under no necessity of affecting an interest I 
did not feel. Howbeit, a great many things they 
said were sufficiently interesting as well as amus- 
ing. On one occasion I heard a conversation be- 
tween Mrs. Beshears and sister Jane that gave 
me a feeling of uneasiness I could not account for. 

"Mary Bullard hollered ' howdye ' at me as I 
limped by," remarked Mrs. Beshears. "When 
is she going to git married? 'T won't be long, I 
reckon." 

"The Lord knows. I hope she 'U get a good 
husband. You know how it is — good woman, 
shiftless man; good man, tacky woman. Provi- 
dence has paired them off that way, I reckon." 

"It looks so," said Mrs. Beshears. "Why 
don't " — if she mentioned a name it never reached 
my ears ; it struck me afterwards that she wrote 
it in the air with her forefinger. "Why don't — 
drop his wing and cut the double-shuffle around 
her? I lay that would fetch her." 

There was a long pause during which I imag- 
ined that sister Jane was dampening the seams of 
a trouser leg, preparatory to pressing them, an 
operation which she always performed in silence. 
Presently she remarked, in a lower tone of voice 
than usual : — 

"Why, bless your soul, child, he wouldn't do 
at all. He hasn't got the chink. He don't belong 
to the big-bugs." 

"And what if he don't? What if he don't?" 
asked Mrs. Beshears with a touch of indignation 



AN OLD FRIEND. 25 

in her tones. "Ain't he every bit and grain as 
good as any of the BuUards that the Lord ever 
let live on the earth?" Sister Jane said nothing; 
she was probably testing the warmth of her tailor's 
goose ; and Mrs. Beshears went on, her voice be- 
coming more strained and tense: "If you talk 
and feel that way, Jane Wornum, don't never up 
and tell me that you know Cephas BuUard, be- 
cause you don't. But old Sally Beshears knows 
him through and through, up and down. Why, le' 
me tell you, Jane Wornum! Cephas Bullard" — 

"Sh-sh-h! " whispered sister Jane, loud enough 
for me to hear. She probably jerked her thumb 
or waved her hand in my direction. 

"I don't care," cried Mrs. Beshears, louder 
than ever. "I don't care who hears me, not if 
it 's old Cephas himself. The next time you see 
him jest ask him where his brother is and what 
has become of his brother's property; and if he 
wants to know how come you to ask him, jest up 
and tell him that old Sal Beshears, cross-eyed and 
crippled, told you to ask him. And if that don't 
make him flinch, it '11 be because the Old Boy 's 
done took possession of him." 

Sister Jane made some comment in a tone of 
voice too low for me to hear, though I was listen- 
ing with all my ears. 

"Oh, I don't doubt that," replied Mrs. Be- 
shears. "Mary'd be an angel if this climate 
suited angels. She 's as good as she 's handsome, 
and that 's more 'n you can say for the common 



26 SIST£R JANE. 

run of gals. Why, she 's just as different from 
old Cephas as she is from old Jonce Ashfield." 

This was putting it pretty strong, for old Jonce 
was noted far and wide as an irredeemable toss- 
pot. A long silence followed this surprising re- 
mark — a silence that was finally broken by Mrs. 
Beshears. 

"I believe in my soul Mary's in love with him," 
she said. 

"With ? " asked sister Jane. Could it be 

possible that she, too, wrote the name in the 
empty air with her forefinger ? If so much as a 
murmur of it had passed her lips it would have 
come to my ears. 

"Yes," replied Mrs. Beshears. "She came to 
my house the other day, with her little brother, 
hunting sweet-gum, and I teased her about him. 
She blushed might'ly and looked as purty as a 
peach. She looked at me much as if she 'd say, 
' Hey, old lady ! bow 'd you find out my secret ? ' 
And I ups and says, says I, ' Ah, honey, inno- 
cence don't know how to hide its heart from eyes 
that are old and sharp.' " 

"Well, I hope it ain't so," remarked sister 
Jane, after a while. 

"Why?" asked Mrs. Beshears, plumply. 

"Because " — Here sister Jane paused and got 
no further in her explanation. 

"Fudge! fiddlesticks!" cried Mrs. Beshears. 
"A whole quintillion of becauses ain't as big as 
a grain of sand in a matter of that kind." 



AN OLD FRIEND. 27 

I heard no more of that conversation, for I went 
out into the garden bare-headed and walked for 
an hour up and down trying to get rid of a feeling 
of strange uneasiness that possessed me, and for 
which I could not account. It was a feeling as 
near to fear as any I ever had, and there was a 
queer buzzing in my head. After walking for an 
hour, I felt better, and then I went into my room 
and went to bed, promising myself to be careful 
of my diet hereafter. 

Next morning, the first "thing that popped into 
my mind was the conversation of the night before, 
and at breakfast I tried to broach the subject. 

"Sister Jane," said I, "didn't Mrs. Beshears 
say last night that Mary Bullard was to be mar- 
ried shortly? " 

"If she did, I didn't hear her," replied sister 
Jane, decisively. 

"But I 'm sure," I persisted, "that I heard her 
say Mary is in love with some one." 

"No, Sally didn't say that," sister Jane an- 
swered. "She said she thought Mary was in 
love." 

"Who Is the happy man? " I asked. 

"You, I reckon," said sister Jane, giving 
Tommy Tinkins a morsel of meat. 

I felt the blood mount to my face, and then 
rise upward to the very roots of my hair. " Non- 
sense ! Why, you must take me for a nincom- 
poop. I 'm no child for you to play with." 

At this, sister Jane fell to laughing and con- 



28 SISTER JANE. 

tinued until she was on the verge of convulsions, 
and I was painfully conscious that my red face 
and my efforts to maintain my dignity were the 
cause of her merriment. 

"Don't you know," she remarked when she 
could control her voice, "that I 'm not going to 
blab everything Sally Beshears tells me?" 

Thereupon, I rose from the table and strode 
out of the room feeling very much offended. But 
I paused at the door long enough to hear sister 
Jane say to Tommy Tinkins. 

"Well, well, well! If men ain't fools, I wish 
somebody 'd show me a sure enough one ! " 

But all these things passed out of my mind as 
the season passes, and my thoughts fell back into 
their old channels, where doubtless they would 
have remained but for a circumstance that stirred 
our little household as it had never been stirred 
before — a circumstance that brought about unex- 
pected complications, and changed the course of 
more than one life. 



III. 

WHAT THE STORM LEFT AT OUR DOOR. 

One night in the winter of 1848 — I think it 
was the 17th of January — I was sitting in my 
room ruminating as usual. The fire on the hearth 
had burned low, the weather having been rainy 
and warm during the day. Through the closed 
door, I heard the subdued hum of conversation be- 
tween Mrs. Beshears and my sister Jane, and it 
made my solitude more cheerful. Once, hearing 
the whistle of the rising wind, I looked from the 
door, and saw that the rain-clouds that had been 
coming from the west all day were now driving 
swiftly before a northwest wind. Patches of dark- 
blue sky showed here and there in the zenith, and 
in these the stars twinkled as freshly as if they 
had been washed clean by the white vapors that 
went whirling through the sky. 

By the time the nine o'clock bell had rung, the 
temperature had fallen considerably, and I was 
compelled to replenish my fire. The northwest 
wind increased to a gale, and presently I heard 
the tinkling spatter of sleet as the wind hurled it 
against my window-blinds. Sometimes the wind 
would rise away from the earth and roar in the 



30 SISTEH JANE. 

tops of the trees and chimneys ; then it would fall 
to the ground again, bringing with it a blast of 
cutting sleet. Mrs. Beshears had stayed longer 
than usual, and I wondered how she and the 
negro boy who always accompanied her would 
manage to get home through the storm. Worried 
somewhat by this thought, I rose from my rock- 
ing-chair and walked nervously about the room. 
Suddenly I heard the sound of voices on the side- 
walk. What they said at first was drowned by 
the roaring wind, but presently I heard a woman's 
voice : — 

"I ain't goin' narry step, an' you can't make 
me. I '11 die fust." 

Then came the voice of a man: "Ef you don't 
come, you '11 rue it. You 've come this fur; you 
might as well go f urder. Come on, I tell ye ; I '11 
call 'em to the door." 

"I won't!" exclaimed the woman. "I won't 
and I shan't!" 

There was an ominous pause. The woman 
cried out again: "Mind now! Ef you hit me, 
I '11 holler. You can't keep me from hollerin'." 

"You slut!" said the man, his voice choked 
and shaking with rage. "You slut! Don't you 
never dast to let me see your face ag'in. I '11 
murder you ef you do! " 

"Hoity-toity! " I said to myself. "What 's all 
this about at such a time of night?" and I made 
up my mind, if any more threats Were made by 
the man, to go out and give him a genteel pummel- 



WHAT THE STORM LEFT AT OUR BOOR. 31 

ing, dark as it was. I imagined I heard some one 
raise the latch of the gate, and I thought, too, 
that I heard a shuffling sound on the little porch, 
but on a stormy night the mind has ears of its 
own, and has a habit of conjuring up every sound 
that the physical ears would be unlikely to hear. 
So I traced the click of the latch and the shuffling 
on the porch to some queer trick of the wind. 

And it was an easy matter to account for the 
savage dialogue that came to my ears through the 
walls. Three miles from the village there was a 
cotton factory that had just been put in operation. 
It was a small affair, indeed, but it had already 
gathered about it a class of population that seemed 
to me to be somewhat undesirable. The men 
had already begun to straggle into town after fac- 
tory hours, and the most of them, when they went 
straggling back, carried a jug of rum home with 
them, besides the drams they had inside their 
skins. They were as lanky and as lousy -looking 
a set as I had ever seen — ^pale, cadaverous, and 
careworn — veritable "clay eaters," as I have 
heard sister Jane call them. What more nat- 
ural than that one of these men, coming to the 
village after a jug of rum, should be followed by 
his wife ; that both should have taken a dram too 
much ; and that they were in a somewhat maudlin 
condition when they paused under the eaves of 
my room to carry on a meaningless quarrel? I 
had dismissed the matter from my mind when 
I heard Mrs. Beshears coming along the hall- 



32 SIST£]i JANE. 

way, followed by sister Jane (as usual) with a 
lighted candle. 

"Gone to bed, William? " cried Mrs. Beshears, 
briskly tapping on the inner door. 

"Come in," I replied. "I have been waiting 
to escort you home." 

"Me?" exclaimed Mrs. Beshears, in some as- 
tonishment. "Oh, my! Think of that, Jane! 
What a compliment! " She curtsied in a way 
that I had not thought her capable of. " Do you 
reely think, Jane, that a young thing like me 
ought to trust herself alone, or as good as alone, 
with as gay a beau as William is? No, I thank 
you, William. I won't pester you to go to-night. 
Some other night, when the moon is shining, and 
the wind ain't so high." 

"But," I persisted in all seriousness, "there 
has been a tremendous change in the weather. 
Sleet is falling, even now. The wind will blow 
you away." 

"And what would you be doin', William? 
A-hanging on to my frock, and a-squalling, I 'U 
be bound. And folks 'd stick their heads out o' 
the windows, and say : " Eun here, everybody, 
and look! Yonder goes the old witch a-flying 
high, with a young man to help her sweep off the 
sky. ' No, William ; I know you mean what you 
say, but by the time you 've faced as many storms 
as old Sally Beshears, you won't never want any- 
body to put themselves out for you. Bless your 
heart, honey ! Here 's what 's faced wind and 



WHAT TEE STORM LEFT AT OUR DOOR. 33 

rain, sleet and hail, these many long years, with 
abundance of thunder flung in for good measure." 

"I 've begged and begged her to stay all night, 
but she won't listen to that," remarked sister Jane. 

"No, no!" exclaimed Mrs. Beshears, shaking 
her head and rapping on the floor with her cane. 
"I know I 'm jest as welcome as anybody could 
be, and I 'd stay, if I could, if only for the sakes 
of that nigger boy. I 'm a red-eyed tory if I 
don't believe he '11 have every stitch o' clothes 
blow'd off of him before he gits to the next cor- 
ner. And that '11 be more patching' and sewing 
for me — and the Lord knows I have enough of 
that. No, folks, I can't stay. If them two 
babies of mine was to wake up in the night and 
miss me, they 'd git to wandering hither and yon 
in the dark, and they might fall and hurt them- 
selves, poor old souls ! " 

Of course there was nothing to be said after 
that, so I stationed myself at the door ready to 
open and close it as quickly as possible, while 
sister Jane, as was her nightly habit, poised the 
candle so as to hold it above her head, as if by 
that means to light Mrs. Beshears on her way. 

"Come on, little nigger. I 'm mighty sorry for 
you, but I can't keep the wind from blowing nor 
the sleet from sleeting." 

But she was careful to tie around his neck the big 
knitted scarf which she had worn over her head, 
wrapping her cape around her own ears. Then 
sister Jane came to the rescue with her big striped 



34 SISTER JANE. 

shawl, and, in a moment, Mrs. Beshears was 
ready for her homeward journey. 

"Good-night, folks," she said once more. "If 
it keeps on blowing I '11 likely not come to-morrow 
night, Jane, and if William cries about it, le' me 
know. Come on, little nigger." 

As sister Jane held the candle above her head, 
I opened the door, and as Mrs. Beshears and the 
negro slipped out, tried to push it quickly to. But 
the storm was quicker. The wind swirled in, 
caught the door and held it against all my strength, 
blew out the candle, and sent the sparks and ashes 
flying out of the fireplace all over the room. It 
was the work of a moment. Sister Jane dropped 
the candle, gave a little shriek of dismay, and ran 
about the room, knocking the sparks and coals 
from the counterpane and curtains, and from the 
rug. She had hardly begun to do this, when there 
came a tremendous thumping at the door, which I 
had managed to close, and we heard Mrs. Beshears 
screaming so as to make herself heard above the 
rush and roar of the storm : 

"Jane! Jane! William! For God A'mighty's 
sake come here! William! Jane! " 

Then she began to beat frantically on the pan- 
els with her walking-cane. I jumped to the door 
at the sound of her voice, but in my haste and 
confusion I forgot to turn the key, and stood 
turning and wrenching the bolt. Mrs. Beshears 
must have divined the trouble, for she screamed 
from the other side : — 



WHAT TEE STORM LEFT AT OUR DOOR. 35 

"Unlock the door! Here's somebody dead or 
a-dying! " 

At last habit, more than presence of mind, 
came to my assistance. I turned the key mechan- 
ically, drew back the bolt, and the wind burst the 
door open. By this time sister Jane had thrust 
a handful of fat pine splinters in the fireplace, 
and now held the flaming torch aloft. 

"It's a woman!" gasped Mrs. Beshears. "A 
woman and a baby. I found out that much! " 

It is wonderful how active the mind is in mo- 
ments of extreme excitement, and how prone the 
memory is to seize and register the most trifling 
details. With one glance I saw that sister Jane 
was pale, but composed, that Mrs. Beshears was 
white as a ghost, that sister Jane's big tortoise- 
shell comb had fallen from her head, and that one 
of Mrs. Beshears's big crescent-shaped ear-rings 
had been loosed from its fastening. 'Twas all as 
momentary as the lightning's flash. It was for- 
tunate indeed that in the very nick and point of 
time the little negro boy, who was clinging con- 
vulsively to the skirts of his mistress, should sud- 
denly set up a series of shrieks and yells which, 
being wholly unreasonable, and therefore irritat- 
ing, served to recall us all to our senses. 

"Sally, for the Lord's sake give that imp a 
cuff that '11 take his breath away," said sister 
Jane. 

This timely advice was promptly followed, and 
the confusion and excitement we had all felt a 



36 SISTER JANE. 

moment before were sensibly allayed. I stepped 
on the porch, and, by the dim light of the pine- 
torch held aloft by sister Jane, saw a woman hud- 
dled in one corner. Her feet were stretched out, 
and, from having been in a sitting posture, her 
head had drooped forward until it touched a bun- 
dle she had in her lap. Around this bundle her 
arms were twined. I soon found she was not 
dead, for she moved and a rigor shook her frame 
when I laid my hand on her shoulder. 

"Get up and come in the house," I said, shak- 
ing her by the arm. " Come ! Get up ! You '11 
freeze out here." 

She raised her head, shook back her hair, and 
glanced wildly about her. 

"I won't go up yonder!" she moaned. "I'll 
die fust! Oh, me! Why — why — why can't I 
die an' be done with it? " 

It was the pitifullest cry that had ever come to 
my ears. It reached sister Jane's, too, for she 
threw her torch in the fire, came forward, and 
took command. 

"Lift her by that arm, William, and I 'U lift 
her by this. Get up, and come in the house. 
This is no place for you out here. Come, let 's 
go to the fire." 

Sister Jane's voice was so firm, and yet so kind 
and sympathetic that the woman looked up in a 
dazed way. 

"Who are you?" she asked, brushing her hair 
back with her finger. 



WSAT THE STORM LEFT AT OUR DOOR. 37 

"Nobody, much," replied sister Jane, "and if 
yoa keep me standing out liere in the cold, I 
won't be anybody at all." 

"Won't you go in 'less I go?" asked the 
woman. 

"No, I won't! " said sister Jane, decisively. 

Without another word the woman rose to her 
feet with our help, and went in the house. I was 
truly glad when the door was closed, for the 
weather was bitter cold — the coldest, it was said 
afterwards, that had ever been experienced by the 
oldest inhabitant. Sister Jane carried the woman 
into her own room, where there was a warm fire, 
followed by Mrs. Beshears, who was moved by 
both sympathy and curiosity. 

The woman was duly installed in the big rock- 
ing-chair, and, by the uncertain light of the can- 
dle, presented a picture so forlorn, so desolate, 
and so miserable that I hope never to see its like 
again. It was not the faded sunbonnet that she 
tried hard to pull over her eyes, nor the shabby 
dress, nor the coarse and muddy shoes, nor all 
these together. They were the merest accessories. 
The forlornness and misery lay deeper, in some 
subtile way presenting themselves to the mind 
rather than to the eye. 

"Let me take your bonnet," said sister Jane. 

"I don't mind it; it don't bother me," replied 
the woman. 

"It's better off," persisted sister Jane, as she 
gently and deftly untied the strings. 



38 SISTES JANS. 

"I reckon my head 's a plum sight," said the 
woman, true to her sex. 

The one glance that I got of her face when her 
bonnet came o£E — for she bent her head over the 
bundle in her arms — showed that she was quite 
a young woman, not more than twenty at the 
most. Her hair was as black as a crow's wing 
and as sheeny. I judged that if she were fur- 
nished forth with the tassels and toggery of 
fashion, she would be strikingly handsome. So 
far as I could see, Mrs. Beshears had not be- 
stowed a glance on the young woman, but sat 
gazing steadily into the bed of hickory coals, tap- 
ping the andiron gently with the end of her cane. 
Presently she turned in her chair. 

"What have you got in that bundle? " 

"Nothing but a little bit of a baby," replied 
the young woman, hugging it closer to her bosom. 

"A baby! " exclaimed sister Jane. 

"Yes'm. An' ef he don't pester me, I don't 
see how he can pester anybody." Hearing no 
comment on this, the young woman looked up. I 
could see despair in her eyes ; I could see misery 
in the flutter of her nostrils, and in the droop of 
her mouth. Hopelessness, friendlessness — all the 
misfortunes that go trooping after sin — had set 
their seal on that face. 

How she misread the sympathy that was written 
in every line of sister Jane's face, I have never 
been able to understand, for tears were standing 
in those honest eyes. But the young woman half 



WHAT TEE STORM LEFT AT OUR DOOR. 39 

rose from her chair and began to gather the thin 
and shabby shawl more closely around the child. 

"Gi' me my bonnet, an' I'll go," she said. 
"I know 'd in reason I ought not to 'a' come in 
here. I ain't got no more business in this house 
than I 've got on the inside of a church, an' that 's 
the Lord's truth. Show me the door, please, 
ma'am. The cold ain't no more to me than the 
heat, an' the night 's lots better than the day. 
I 've brung mud in your house on my shoes. 
Where's my bonnet? Thess gi' me my bonnet. 
It 's all the head-wear I 've got left." 

"Sit down," said sister Jane. "Give me that 
child. If it ain't frozen, it ain't your fault." 

"No'm! No 'm !" protested the woman. "Le' 
me go — I must go! I didn't want to come in, 
but you all took an' drug me. I ain't no more 
wuth your thought than the four-footed creeturs 
in the woods. Gi' me my bonnet." 

" Sit down ! I tell you to sit down ! Give me 
that child." Sister Jane's commands were given 
in a tone that convinced the woman that 't would 
be unreasonable as weU as useless to resist, so she 
sank back in the rocking-chair, and surrendered 
the bundle into arms that had not borne such a 
burden in thirty-odd years. Holding the bundle 
first on one arm and then on the other, (to further 
the process of unwrapping), sister Jane took off 
the blanket or shawl — whatever it was, it was 
shabby enough — and in a moment there was dis- 
closed to our curious eyes a fat and rosy, but 



40 SISTER JANE. 

extremely sleepy infant. The woman had already 
indicated that it was a boy, and he was certainly 
a fine one to aU outward appearances. As sister 
Jane held him up to get a good view of his face, 
his head wabbled about on his shoulders, and he 
half opened his eyes. Then he smiled, and leaned 
his head against my sister's bosom. Whereupon 
she laughed aloud. 

"I declare! He's about the cutest thing I 
ever saw!" she cried. "Look at him, Sally — 
he 's right now as happy as a lord." 

"He ain't cold, is he?" asked Mrs. Beshears, 
going forward to inspect him. 

"Why, he's as warm as a toast," said sister 
Jane, as proudly as if she had been the means of 
keeping him warm. * 

"How old is he?" asked Mrs. Beshears, turn- 
ing to the mother. 

But there was no answer from that quarter. 
The woman's right hand hung limp by her side; 
the other was caught in the partially open bosom 
of her dress. Her head had fallen to one side, 
and aU the color had left her face. 

"Take this child, William!" exclaimed sister 
Jane, thrusting the baby into my lap. No doubt 
I held him awkwardly enough, but I cuddled him 
up in my arms to the best of my ability, which, 
in this direction, at least, was poor enough. 

With a promptness and decision beyond all 
praise, sister Jane seized the sponge which she 
used to dampen cloth before pressing it, dipped 



WHAT THE STORM LEFT AT OUR DOOR. 41 

it in a pan of cold water that was always within 
reach, and applied it to the face and wrists of the 
poor woman, whose fainting-spell was the result 
of a reaction from the strain that misfortune and 
exposure had imposed upon her. She was young 
and robust, but fainting-spells seem to be a part 
of the equipment of the sex, and are intended, no 
doubt, to shield them from the most acute forms 
of mental and physical anguish. 

The woman was soon revived, and, after a glass 
of muscadine wine, which sister Jane had made 
with her own hands, and which was uncorked only 
on the rarest occasions — after a glass of this pun- 
gent and aromatic wine, the woman was as well 
as before. Better, in fact, for the forlorn expres- 
sion slowly died out of her face, the color found 
its way back into her cheeks, and her eyes grew 
brighter. 

"How old is your baby?" inquired Mrs. Be- 
shears once more. She had not forgotten that 
her curiosity in this particular had not been satis- 
fied. 

"A risin' of five months," replied the mother. 

"Where's your husband?" Mrs. Beshears 
asked. 

For answer, the woman placed her hands to her 
face, leaned back in the chair, and said nothing, 
but I could see that she was deeply moved. 

"Dead, I reckon?" persisted Mrs. Beshears. 

The woman, still holding her hands before her 
face, shook her head with emphasis, and then 



42 SISTJSS JANE. 

began to cry as uncontrollably as a child might. 
Mrs. Beshears looked at sister Jane, sister Jane 
looked at Mrs. Beshears, then both looked at me, 
and I looked at the baby. No word was said, 
but all of us knew that the unfortunate creature 
who sat there weeping had descended into the 
valley where sin and shame have their abiding 
place — a vaUey that is deep, but not far to seek. 

I looked at the baby when sister Jane and Mrs. 
Beshears looked at me, and I was surprised to 
find that it was looking at me. Its bright eyes 
were wide open, and when they met mine, the 
child smiled and tried to hide its face on my 
shoulder. Presently it reached its dimpled hand 
to my cheek, and began to pinch it gently. It 
was such a pretty and cunning trick that I invol- 
untarily hugged the little one closer in my arms, 
and realized for the first time in my life how 
sweet and thrilling the glory of motherhood must 
be to a woman — even to the poor woman sitting 
near me, consumed as she was with shame and 
misery. 

"I told you as plain as I could talk," she 
sobbed, "that I hain't no business to be in this 
house. For mercy's sake, gi' me my poor little 
baby an' my bonnet, an' le' me go! " 

Not knowing what else to do, I rose from my 
chair, and was about to comply, when sister Jane 
said sternly : — 

"What are you doing, William? Give the 
child to me." 



WHAT THE STORM LEFT AT OUR DOOR. 43 

"He's not asleep," I remarked, with as much 
austerity of manner as I could at the moment 
assume. 

"Go show your grandmother how to make a 
goose-yoke," said sister Jane, sarcastically. 

"You seem to know a great deal about babies," 
I suggested, with some show of dignity. 

"I ought to, goodness knows," replied sister 
Jane, "for I 've had one on my hands for the 
better part of my life." 

If I said nothing in rejoinder, it was not be- 
cause of a lack of a disposition to do so, but be- 
cause there was nothing else to be said. More- 
over, I felt that Providence had directed me 
aright when I rose to place the child in its 
mother's arms. If I had said, "Woman, stay," 
the woman would have had to go. But, by an 
involuntary movement, I had said, "Woman, 
go ! " Therefore she would stay. The perversity 
which attaches itself to the feminine mind, as the 
mistletoe to the bough of the crab-apple — sprout- 
ing from the under side, if it can find no more 
convenient footing — was as marked in my sister 
Jane as in any woman ; but I thank heaven that 
it never hardened her heart nor soured her temper 
so far as I was concerned. 



IV. 

THE BABT IS PUT TO BED. 

The situation was so interesting that Mrs. 
Beshears forgot that she was obliged to go home. 
As for me, though it was long past my bedtime, 
I had no thought of sleep. Sister Jane held the 
baby with a deftness that showed her hand had 
not lost its cunning; and the little thing played 
the same trick with her that it had with me. It 
reached forth its dimpled hand and gently pinched 
her neck. 

"Look at him, SaUy! He 's pinching my neck, 
and he keeps on at it," said sister Jane. "And 
he 's looking right at me ! " 

She put her face against the baby's and rocked 
back and forth in her chair, looking at the bed of 
coals on the hearth. The matter of her thoughts 
I could not even guess, but I knew she was happy, 
for her face wore a smile that made her look 
younger by twenty years. 

The mother of the child was far from comfor- 
table, as I could see. She moved restlessly about 
in her chair, and I felt rather than saw that the 
inquisitive eyes of Mrs. Beshears were fixed upon 
her. With her baby in her arms, she could have 



TBE BABY IS PUT TO BED. 45 

hid her face, but now all she could do was to 
change her position by moving about in her chair. 
The woman could not know, of course, that there 
was neither scorn nor condemnation in the eyes of 
Mrs. Beshears, but only a sort of sympathetic 
curiosity. Suddenly Mrs. Beshears spoke : — 

"Child, what is your name?" The question 
was blunt and sudden, but the woman seemed to 
be relieved at hearing the sound of a voice. Such 
composure as she could command she showed now. 

"Mandy Satterlee," she replied. 

"Well, I thought so. I used to see you when 
I went to the mill. Jane, don't you mind me 
telling you what a good-lookin' gal I saw running 
wild in the bushes? " 

But sister Jane evidently failed to hear this 
appeal to her memory. When she did speak, she 
said : — 

"Sally, I wish you 'd look at Tinkins." 

While I had been watching the woman and 
Mrs. Beshears out of the corner of my eye. 
Tommy Tinkins had come in from a night's ram- 
ble, a rare event in his later life. Seeing sister 
Jane holding something in her arms, he jumped 
in her lap to discover what it might be. He 
looked curiously at the baby's face — it was still 
awake — put his nose against the chubby arm, 
and then began to show his satisfaction in a man- 
ner more marked than I had ever noticed before. 
He purred loudly, making a noise like a small 
flutter-mill, such as the children play with; he 



46 SISTER JANE. 

rubbed his sides against the baby ; he rubbed his 
chin on the baby's arm; and even when he tried 
to stand still his forefeet were moving up and 
down as a soldier would mark time. Not content 
with this, he jumped from sister Jane's lap, and 
went to the baby's mother. He was so well satis- 
fied with her that he jumped in her lap and went 
through the same performance. At the end of it, 
he stretched himself out on her knee, placed his 
muzzle on his forepaws, and closed his eyes con- 
tentedly. Neither sister Jane nor myself had 
ever seen Tommy Tinkins in a stranger's lap 
before, and both expressed astonishment. 

"I reckon Mandy's got catnip on her clothes," 
said Mrs. Beshears, by way of explanation. 

"No," replied Mandy ,"I hain't seen no catnip 
— not sence I was a little bit of a gal." 

"William," remarked sister Jane in the tone 
she always employed when her mind was made 
up, "I '11 thank you to light the fire in the next 
room." 

"If you're lightin' it for me, Jane, don't do 
it," said Mrs. Beshears. "I'd stay if I could, 
but I 'm ableedge to go home. I 've got to go if 
I have to fly." 

"No, Sally; there 's another room if you make 
up your mind to stay," replied sister Jane. 
"Light the fire, William." 

As I went from the room, I heard her talking 
all sorts of foolish talk to the baby, as women will, 
while the baby was cooing a pretty reply. The 



TEE BABY IS PUT TO BED. 47 

hearth was fixed ready for an emergency. Pine 
splinters of the required "fatness" were stuck 
here and there between the seasoned hickory logs, 
and it was no trouble at all to make the fire. 
The draft in the chimney flue, responsive to the 
wind outside, was very strong, and a warm and 
cheerful blaze was soon roaring on the hearth. 

Standing before it a moment, I noticed that the 
fury of the tempest outside had abated somewhat, 
though the wind was still blowing stiffly. I heard, 
too, a suspicious tinkling sound on the panes of 
the window that had no blinds. Drawing aside 
the curtain, I saw that the ground was covered 
with snow, and that it was still snowing briskly. 
This was so rare a spectacle in our part of the 
country that not many children in the village 
under ten years of age had seen it, and I caught 
myself wondering what impression it would make 
on them. Then I heard the clock striking twelve, 
and, before the sound had died away, there came 
a knocking at the outer door. Wondering what 
this might mean, I hastened to respond, and found 
on the outside a tall negro man. 

"Who are you, and what under the canopy of 
heaven do you want at this time of night?" I 
asked with some show of irritation. 

"'T ain't nobody but Mose, suh. I fotch de 
buggy atter Miss Sally, ef she 's here, en ef she 
ain't here, de Lord knows whar she is, kaze she 
ain't at home, ner nowhars nigh dar." 

Of course I knew Moses. Mrs. Beshears had 



48 8ISTES JANE. 

selected him to be the foreman on her place, be- 
cause he was a little bit less lazy than the rest of 
the negroes. So I made Moses come in, and car- 
ried him to my own room, where a fire was stiU 
burning. He wiped his feet over and over again, 
shook the snow from his clothes, and struck his 
hat against the wall several times before he ac- 
cepted the invitation to come in and warm himself 
while Mrs. Beshears was getting ready to go. 
There was no light in the room except the dim 
one that came from the red glow of the hearth, 
and as Moses stood in front of it, changing his 
hat from one hand to the other as he warmed 
each by turns, his stalwart figure cast an imposing 
silhouette on the wall and ceiling. 

"I'm name Moses," he said, as if talking to 
himself, "en ef dish yer fixe ain't de prommus 
Ian', I ain't never seed no prommus Ian'." 

"Is the weather very cold?" I asked, as I fas- 
tened the door. 

"Hit gittin' wuss en wuss, suh," he replied. 
"De fros' done got in de sap er de trees, suh, en 
ez I wuz driving' long thoo de grove out yan', I 
hear one un um pop. Yes, suh, I hear de tree 
pop, en she pop so loud, 't wuz much ez I could 
do ter hoi' dat ole hoss out dar. Little mo' en 
he 'd a run'ded away- — ^dat ole hoss would." 

I left Moses enjoying the warmth of the fire, 
and went to inform Mrs. Beshears that she had 
been sent for. I walked along the hallway, 
opened the door, and was about to speak to her 



THE BABY IS PUT TO BED. 49 

when I heard sister Jane's "sh,-sh-h!" and saw 
her raise her hand in warning. In some alarm, 
I enquired in a whisper what the trouble was. 
A gesture of her hand told me that the baby was 
asleep, and I was glad to find that it was nothing 
worse, for the events of the night had prepared 
me to fear that some new complications had taken 
shape during my absence from the room. 

Breathing a sigh of relief, I told Mrs. Beshears, 
in a tone not calculated to disturb the baby, that 
Moses had come for her. She tiptoed to sister 
Jane's chair, peeped at the sleeping baby and said 
good-night. Then she tiptoed to Mandy Satterlee 
and shook hands with her. This done, a new 
trouble arose. How was she to arouse the little 
negro boy, who was one of the seven sleepers? 
At my suggestion, made in pantomime, she took 
him by one arm, while I seized him by the other. 
In this way, we lifted him bodily from the room 
into the hallway, shut the door, and dragged him 
along the best we could in the dark to my room, 
where, after a shake or two from Mrs. Beshears, 
and a word from Mose, the boy was able to stand 
on his feet without assistance. 

"I reckon we can talk like folks out here," 
exclaimed Mrs. Beshears. "You hear me say it, 
William, if Jane Wornum ain't gone daft over 
that young 'rni, I 'd like to know the reason. 
Why, the mianit it shet its eyeleds, nobody could 
say a word. If you spoke to Jane she 'd shake 
her head and p'int to the baby. At her time of 



50 SISTER JANE. 

life, too! I declare, it beats all. Is that you, 
Moses? "Well, why n't you wait tiU mornin' to 
come after me?" 

"Kaze, Mistiss, I knowed mighty well you'd 
wanter come fo' mornin'," replied Moses, ignor- 
ing the sarcasm. 

"Well, I 'd 'a' waited tiU after sun-up, anyway, 
if I 'd 'a' been you," remarked Mrs. Beshears. 
"Did you fetch the wheel-barrer or the ox-cart?" 

"I fetch ol' Sam en de buggy, ma'am," an- 
swered Moses. 

"Well, good Lord! are you going to walk and 
lead old Sam, or shall I have to walk and lead 
him? He can't haul us all." 

"He mighty gaily ter-night, ma'am. Much 
ez I kin do ter hoi' him whence we 'uz comin' 
'long des now. Better wrop yo'se'f up good, 
Mistiss, kaze dish yer wedder is de kin' what '11 
creep under de kiver, I don't keer how much you 
may pile on." 

But Mrs. Beshears was fortified in this respect. 
When she was ready to go she bade me good- 
night, Moses bowed, as I held the door open, and 
in a moment I heard the horse's feet crunching 
through the snow, which had already formed an 
outer crust. Then I went back to sister Jane's 
room to see if I could be of any service before 
going to bed. Mandy Satterlee was still holding 
the cat in her lap, gazing into the depths of the 
fireplace. The color had returned to her face, 
and though her hair was tossed about, its black 



THE BABY IS PUT TO BED. 61 

masses made a fitting frame for her features ; and 
I saw at a glance that among her other misfor- 
tunes she had the dower of beauty. Sister Jane 
was still holding the baby, humming a low tune. 
Her warning hand told me that I had forgotten 
to steal into the room on my tiptoes, perceiving 
which, the baby's mother intervened. 

"You may make all the fuss you want to, 
now," she said. "He 'd wake ef you drapped 'im 
on the floor, maybe, but I don't know what else 
would wake 'im. He hain't no trouble in the 
wide world." She made this remark with a touch 
of pride that was unmistakable. "I '11 take 'im, 
now," she went on. "Oh, the Lord knows I 
don't want to worry you-all. I know I ought n't 
to be settin' here. I ain't nothin' ner nobody." 

"William," said sister Jane, "turn down the 
bed-cover in the next room, and warm the pil- 
lows." 

"Le' me do it! Oh, le' me do somethin', so 
I won't run ravin' crazy. I don't know how to 
set here holdin' my ban's an' a-doin' of no good," 
said the baby's mother. 

"Show her the way, WiUiam." Sister Jane's 
tone was not less imperative because her voice 
was pitched in a lower key. So I made haste to 
show Mandy Satterlee where the room was, and 
while she turned down the cover and smoothed 
out the snow-white sheets anew, I took occasion 
to renew the fire, so that the room would remain 
comfortably warm for the rest of the night. Hav- 



52 SISTER JANE. 

ing finished this I stood before the fire, expecting 
to see the young woman fetch the pillow to be 
warmed. After watching the fire a moment, and 
hearing no sound, I turned and saw Mandy lean- 
ing on the foot-board of the bed, which was a 
high one, silently weeping. So I took the pillow, 
placed one end on the floor and leaned it against 
a chair. Presently sister Jane came in bringing 
the baby. 

"If the pillow's warm, William, put it back 
on the bed." 

I made sure of the warmth, for I knew that 
sister Jane would test it by laying her cheek 
against it, and placed it on the bed. She gave 
it a light blow with her free hand, laid the baby 
down, and drew the cover over it with the great- 
est care. Then she turned to the mother. 

"What's the matter, Mandy?" she asked in 
her practical way. 

"Nothin' in the wide world," replied Mandy, 
eagerly, though the tears were streaming down 
her cheeks. "Pleas 'm don't le' me worry you. 
I 'm happier right now than I 've been sence — 
sence I don't know when. It ain't when I cry 
that I 'm in trouble; it 's when I can't cry." 

"Then come and sit by me," said sister Jane, 
"and cry to your heart's content. It'll do you 
a world of good. See to the doors and the fires, 
WilHam." 

Taking this as a gentle hint, I went out, and 
inspected all the outer doors, trying the locks, to 



THE BABY IS PUT TO BED. 63 

make sure that they were fastened. This was a 
part of the nightly routine, but it was a useless 
task to be set for me, for sister Jane was sure to 
slip around to each door after I had gone to bed, 
to satisfy herself that it was secure. 

What these two women said to each other in 
that hour — the one strong and self-reliant, but 
charitable, the other weak and erring, but peni- 
tent in heart and mind — I never knew ; I never 
wanted to know. For revelation would have 
made commonplace a matter over which secrecy 
had thrown a sacred veil. There are mysteries 
which divination exalt, and this was one of them. 
The cry of a penitent is heard with more joy in 
heaven than the prayer of a saint; it may be 
misunderstood here, but it is rightly heard there 
through all the riot and uproar of the spinning 
worlds. 

After I had attended to everything, as usual, 
I opened the door of the room to bid sister Jane 
good-night, as had been my habit since childhood. 
But what I saw made me pause on the threshold. 
Sister Jane sat in a low chair with her arms 
around Mandy Satterlee, who was kneeling on the 
floor at her side. Mandy's hair fell in black coils 
to the floor; neither one heard or saw me. There 
was a murmur of conversation, but I did not pause 
to hear. Closing the door gently, I went to my 
room, and was soon sound asleep. 



V. 

SISTER JANE TAKES BOAEDEE8. 

The next morning the negro boy who was in 
the habit of making the fires failed to put in an 
appearance. And no wonder. The snow was 
piled to such a height in the little porch, having 
been blown into a drift by the wind, that it 
reached nearly to the door-knob. But a beauti- 
ful sight met my eyes when I looked out. One 
could almost be tempted to believe that a miracle 
had been performed in the night. Everywhere 
the snow lay thick and white, and over the trunks 
and branches of the trees a thin mantle of ice had 
been woven. An arbor-vitae tree standing in the 
garden was so heavily-laden with this unusual gift 
of winter that its branches gave forth ^ queer 
creaking sound when they swayed in the light 
breeze; and the honeysuckle vine made a rare 
show in its garment of mingled sleet and snow — 
winter's patchwork. 

But I had no time to enjoy the scene. I made 
haste to go to the cook-room, intending to start 
the fire, and, in this way, help sister Jane as 
much as possible. But when I got there a fire 
was roaring on the hearth, and Mandy Satterlee 
was sitting before it. She rose as I entered. 



SISTER JANE TAKES BOARDERS. 65 

"I 'm mighty glad you 're up," she said, with a 
movement of her lips that was almost a smile. 
"I slipped out of bed an' come out here to see ef 
I couldn't he'p aroun' a little. I started the fire 
an' then had to set down an' wait for somebody. 
I didn't want to wake her up, 'cause I know in 
reason she must be teetotally fagged out. Ef you 
know how to give out things," she went on, "I '11 
whirl in here an' git breakfast fer you-all in three 
shakes of a sheep's-tail." 

I found the cupboard key, and showed Mandy 
where the meat, the meal, and the flour were kept, 
but further I could not go. How much or how 
little to give out for making a meal and prevent- 
ing all waste, was a problem I had not mastered. 
Instead of laughing at my total ignorance Mandy 
shoved me gently aside and took charge of mat- 
ters. 

Then I made a fire in my own room, after many 
efforts, and when I went back, sister Jane was up 
and out and engaged in a friendly quarrel with 
Mandy Satterlee. 

" Why, what in the world do you mean by not 
waking me?" sister Jane was saying. "Where's 
William? William, why didn't you wake me 
and let this poor thing rest? " 

"For the best reason in the world," I answered. 
"I was sound asleep myself, and when I did 
wake, I found a fire roaring in the chimney here." 

"Well, this beats all," remarked sister Jane. 
" I 'm no chicken, and this is the first time I 've 



66 SISTER JANE. 

ever overslept myself since I 've been a woman 
grown." 

"That 's because you 've never had to retch out 
an' pick up a poor stray creetur before," said 
Mandy Satterlee. 

"'T ain't that," explained sister Jane. "I've 
been up just as late, and I 've been through just 
as much and more, too, for that matter; but 
sun-up never caught me in bed before, not since 
I was a slip of a gal." 

"Well, once in a way won't hurt," remarked 
Mandy. "By the time you turn 'roun' once or 
twice breakfus '11 be ready." 

Sister Jane opened her eyes wide and made an 
exclamation, which, plainly enough, was not the 
result of surprise alone. For, though particular 
about many things, she was most particular about 
the preparation of her food. She would never 
tolerate a negro cook. Cleanliness was a part of 
her religious creed, and she practiced it unceas- 
ingly and (I sometimes thought, especially on 
scouring days) unsparingly. I am sure she winced 
inwardly when Mandy Satterlee said that break- 
fast was nearly ready. 

"1 reckon I done wrong," said Mandy; "I'm 
good at that. But I jest had to do somethin'. 
Ef you hain't never had the feelin' I hope you 
never will. When I git that a-way, I 'm jest 
ableeged to do somethin'. But ever'body says I 'm 
a good cook. I begun it when I wuz a little gal, 
an' I 've been a-doin' of it off an' on ev'ry sence. 



SISTDR JANE TAKES BOARDERS. 57 

I do hope you '11 jest' taste of the vittles any- 
how." 

"Well, my appetite ain't so mighty good this 
morning, and I don't care what I eat," replied 
sister Jane, with characteristic bluntness. Then 
she went into the room where the baby was still 
asleep. When she came out, her face wore a 
pleasanter expression. "He 's sleeping like a 
log," she said. 

By that time breakfast was ready and the table 
set. It was surprising with what deftness Mandy 
handled the crockery-ware, and how apt she was 
in discovering where everything was kept. Pres- 
ently she said, with a somewhat embarrassed air, 
"Well, I reckon ever 'thing 's ready. Set down 
an' eat it while it 's warm." 

"What are you going to do?" asked sister 
Jane, seeing that plates had been laid for two 
only. "Fix a place for yourself." 

"Oh, no'm! I '11 hand the things around. I 
never eat with any heart right after I 've been 
cookin'. It '11 rest me to help you." 

Sister Jane placed a chair and plate for Mandy 
and insisted that she should sit down with us. 
But neither persuasion nor insistence had any 
effect on her. She only shook her head, and, 
finally, closed sister Jane's mouth by placing a 
plate of smoking waffles under her nose. 

Now, if there was anything my sister was fond 
of it was hot waffles. She often tried to make 
them and as often failed, and finally had placed 



58 SISTER JANE. 

the irons out of sight behind the pots, and kettles, 
and ovens. A pleased smile fluttered around her 
mouth, as she got a whiff of her favorite dish. 

"Why, Mandy, where in the world did you 
find the waffle-irons?" she exclaimed. 

"I know 'd in reason that you ought to have 
a pair," replied Mandy, "an' I jest hunted till I 
found 'em." 

"I hope you cleaned them," said sister Jane. 

" The waffles '11 tell you more about that than 
I can," was all Mandy would say. 

The breakfast was very fine, and I enjoyed it 
as much as sister Jane did. The waffles were 
delicious, the coffee retained the fresh aroma of 
the roasted berry, the ham was broiled to a turn, 
and, in fact, everything showed the hand of an 
adept. In reply to a question, Mandy said her 
mother had taught her how to cook, and then we 
remembered that the daughter of a Virginia gen- 
tleman, who had emigrated to this region to better 
his condition, had outraged her .parents and 
shocked her friends by eloping with Duncan 
Satterlee. Here, then, were my sister Jane and 
myself actually enjoying the remote results of a 
social dislocation (if I may so term it) which had 
caused no little stir when it happened, and which 
was still talked of when old people desired to 
point a moral for the benefit of their daughters. 
It was so curious that I determined to make the 
matter a subject for an essay, written after the 
manner and in the style of those that still delight 



SISTER JANE TAKES BOARDERS. 59 

US In Mr. Addison's little paper, "The Spec- 
tator." 

I have dwelt on these trifles purposely. They 
were a part of the order of events, and who shall 
say whether they were not as important in their 
results as any? Who shall decide whether Mandy 
Satterlee's own personality, (which was far from 
displeasing), or that of her baby, or her art of 
cookery, was most influential in bringing my sister 
to decide that the unfortunate young woman 
should thereafter make her home with us? 
'T would be a rough and an unsatisfactory way 
of disposing of an important matter to say that 
a mere trifle caused my sister Jane to make up 
her mind to fly in the face of public opinion; but 
trifles that seem to be light as air are frequently 
heavy enough to turn the scale. 

At any rate, sister Jane decided that Mandy 
Satterlee should remain with us. I was consulted 
about it as a matter of form, and (that my indi- 
viduality might assert itself) I offered some argu- 
ments against the proposition and pressed them 
with a show of heat that I was far from feeling. 
I foresaw that whatever objection I might put 
forward would cause sister Jane to make up her 
mind more firmly, for she was never sure she was 
right until opposition confirmed her intuitions. 
We talked the matter over for a good quarter of 
an hour, and I own that I never heard my sister 
argue as well as she did when she was pleading 
the cause of this poor outcast. For my part, I 



60 SISTER JANE. 

was glad to see her make so trencliant a display 
of the true Christian spirit toward one of her 
own sex. The quality of charity is both rare 
and noble ; it is felt oftener than it is practiced. 
Therefore I was glad that our poor house had 
been illuminated, as it were, by so large a mea- 
sure of that virtue. 

The upshot of the matter was that, what with 
the sympathy and tenderness that were a part of 
her nature, the rosy and cunning baby, the waffles 
and the coffee, sister Jane decided to give Mandy 
Satterlee a home with us until she could find a 
better. She was sitting with her baby in her lap, 
fondling and cooing over it, when sister Jane told 
her. Without a word she jilaced the youngster 
on the floor (where it sprawled, and kicked, and 
crowed), whipped out of the room, and, cold as it 
was, went into the garden and stood near a peach- 
tree, breaking off a twig now and then, and send- 
ing its icy covering tinkling along the frozen crust 
of the snow. She stood there until sister Jane 
called her, and then she came slowly in with 
downcast eyes. 

"Don't stand out there in the snow, Mandy. 
You '11 catch your death of cold." 

"There hain't no danger of that," replied 
Mandy. "I 'm used to the weather, an' ef I 
wa'n't, 't would be aU the same. Nobody in the 
world can ketch cold when the'r heart 's as warm 
as mine is right now." 

She spoke In a low voice, and sister Jane was 



SISTIJS JANE TAKES BOARDERS. 61 

chattering away at the baby, but I think we both 
heard what Mandy said. For, after a while, sister 
Jane touched the young mother on the shoulder 
and said : — 

"You 've no right to fret and worry as long as 
you 've got that child to look after." 

"That's so," Mandy assented, and then she 
went about cleaning up the house for the day, 
displaying a dexterity in this business that was 
astonishing. 

Naturally, in a community as small as ours, 
the episode that brought Mandy Satterlee to our 
door was soon bruited about, and I have no doubt 
the gossips rolled it as a sweet morsel imder their 
tongues. I had no objections to this, though it 
is possible that sister Jane was somewhat irritated 
at the thought that her action in the matter would 
be misconstrued and bandied about from gossip 
to gossip. 

The first of our neighbors to call was Mrs. 
Roby. She had not visited us for months before, 
but now she came, helter-skelter (as you may say), 
to investigate and satisfy her mind. She was 
sweet as butter sauce. It was, "Why, Jane! how 
well you 're looking — I reely believe you are 
getting younger — but look at me how faded and 
wrinkled I am — I declare I 'm getting old so fast 
I don't know what kind of clothes to put on — 
and how is that clever brother of yours? Why, 
here he is now — how are you, William? It is 
a shame you should keep yourself shut up so. 



62 SISTER JANE. 

Why don't you get married? " — and so on in an 
endless stream of questions to which no answers 
were expected, and comments that were not in- 
tended to attract any attention. Mrs. Koby kept 
it up for some time, and then, finally, settled 
down to the main business to which we owed the 
honor of her visit. 

"Jane — I reckon you won't mind me talking 
about it before William, because William seems 
just like one of my own family, and what I 
wouldn't say before him I wouldn't say before 
my own brother. I '11 tell anybody that, I don't 
care who — Jane, what's this great rigmarole I 
hear about old Sal Beshears a-going out of your 
door yonder and finding a gal and a baby and 
a-bringing of 'em in? I don't see how under the 
canopy o' heaven old Sal Beshears could 'a' drug 
any living human being, or a dead one either for 
that matter, out of the blinding snow — I was at 
class-meeting that night — and I know mighty well 
that if old Sal Beshears could 'a' drug herself in 
after she once got out 'twould 'a' been as much. 
And yet I hear 'em say, up and down, that old 
Sal done all this by her own self." 

"Well, Maria," remarked sister Jane, when 
Mrs. Roby paused to take breath, "what if she 
did? What is wrong about it? " 

"Nothing, Jane — nothing in the world. It 
looked to me like it was past aU. reason that a 
crippled old soul like Sal Beshears could 'a' done 
what they say she done." 



SISTER JAN'S TAKES BOARDERS. 63 

" Sometimes when folks get excited they can do 
lots more than they could if they were calm," 
suggested sister Jane, pleasantly, though my prac- 
ticed eye could see that she was boiling inwardly 
— if I may venture to employ the metaphor. 

"That 's so," replied Mrs. Koby, placidly shift- 
ing her ground; "that 's certainly so, because I 
recollect jest as weU as if it happened yesterday 
that one time when I was in my chicken-house 
nailing on a plank, a settin' hen flew in my face, 
and it was all done so sudden that it flung me off 
my balance, and I struck at her with the hammer 
and missed her, and splintered a scantlin' as big 
as my leg — please excuse me, William, because 
I always look on you as one of my own family. 
I couldn't 'a' done it if I hadn't 'a' been excited 
to save my life." 

"Well, the fact is that Sally Beshears didn't 
drag the woman in any more than you did," said 
sister Jane, as she basted the lining in a frock- 
coat. 

"Why, you don't tell me! Well, that outdoes 
me! And it 's the talk of the town. Everybody 
says that old Sally Beshears took and drug the 
woman in. And that ain't all — no, ma'am ! If 
you '11 believe me, that ain't all by a long sight. 
They say that the woman and her baby are here 
right now. Sister Pulliam says that they are jest 
as much at home here as if they 'd 'a' been born 
and brought up here. I says to her, says I, 
' ' Sister Pulliam, we both belong to the same 



64 SISTER JANE. 

cliurcli, and I don't mind telling you that you 
ought not to talk that a-way unless you know 'd 
that what you say is so, because, ' says I, ' I 've 
been knowing Jane Wornum a mighty long time, 
and I know mighty well that she 's not the 
woman, ' says I, ' to take no risks unless she 's got 
some good reason,' says I." 

"Well, I'm glad you told 'em that, Maria," 
exclaimed sister Jane in a tone suspiciously sweet. 
"If you '11 look over on the sofa there, you '11 see 
the baby, and its mammy ain't so far off but 
she 'd come running in if she heard it holler." 

Mrs. Roby sat as if she had been petrified. 
Her tongue for some moments resigned its office. 
She could only rub her chin and wag her head. 
After a while she managed to say : — 

"Well, I told 'em you had some good reason." 

"The best in the world, Maria," said sister 
Jane. "If you ain't certain what it is, you'll 
find it in the Bible, and if you haven't got a 
Bible, ask your preacher. I '11 be bound he can 
tell you if he knows his business." 

" Why, you know I 've got a Bible, Jane. It 
sets right on the centre -table in my parlor in full 
view. You 've not been to my house much, but 
you 've been often enough to see the Bible in my 
parlor." 

"Put it in your living room, then, for the 
Lord's sake, where you can read it every chance 
you get." The asperity of sister Jane's tone was 
ill-concealed by the genial smile that played 



S/ST£S JANE TAKES BOARDERS. 65 

around her mouth. A woman never smiles more 
sweetly or sincerely than when she feels or knows 
she is saying things that are calculated to make 
a friendly enemy wince. 

"I declare, Jane!" exclaimed Mrs. Eoby, "if 
anybody that didn't know you was to hear you 
talking, they 'd think you were mean and frac- 
tious. But we know her too well for that, don't 
we, William?" 

' I assented to this very heartily, for though 
Mrs. Eoby had made the remark sarcastically, I 
knew it to be true that my sister had the tenderest 
heart in the world. Suddenly Mrs. Eoby broke 
forth again : — 

" Oh, yes ! There 's another thing I like to 
'a' forgot. Sister Cosby says that Sister Flewellen 
told her day before yesterday that the reason you 
was keeping the gal was because you wanted to 
take in boarders. But I told Sister Cosby" — 

Before Mrs. Eoby could ramble off into another 
of her rigmaroles, sister Jane brought her hand 
down on the press-board with a resounding 
thwack. 

"Well, I thank Sue Elewellen for that," she 
cried. " I had n't thought of it before, but it 's the 
very thing. I never did think Sue was right bright, 
but I '11 have to change my mind. William, 
think it over. I don't know how many times the 
clerks in Harvey's and Wardwell's and Slade's 
stores have asked me why I didn't take a few 
boarders, and every time I 've told 'em it was 



66 sisti:r jane. 

because I had to do my own cooking — and now 
the Lord has sent me the best cook in the United 
States, if I do say it myself." 

The point of this remark lay in the fact that 
Mrs. Eoby herself kept boarders, and was, at 
that moment "entertaining" (as she was pleased 
to call it) the young gentlemen who were clerking 
in the stores sister Jane had named. It was most 
interesting to a student of human nature to watch 
the expression of Mrs. Eoby's face as sister Jane 
spoke. Dismay, disgust, chagrin, doubt, and 
amazement fluttered over her countenance — a 
tangled medley of emotions. For once in her life 
she knew not what to say, and when she did 
speak, her voice was pitched low. 

"All I can say," she remarked, as she rose to 
go, " is that I hope you '11 have better luck and 
less trouble with your boarders than I 've ever 
had with mine. Well, I must go; I just dropped 
in to say howdy and let you know that I had n't 
forgot you." 

"No need to tear yourself away," said sister 
Jane, hospitably. "Well, good-by, if you will 
go. When you see Sue Flewellen, tell her I 'm 
mighty much obliged to her for her hint. It 's 
a good one." 

Poor Mrs. Roby was neither as voluble nor as 
gay when she went out as when she came in, and 
I could but remark, with a vague feeling of 
regret, that, in proportion as Mrs. Eoby's spirits 
had fallen, my sister's had risen. 



SISTEB JANE TAKES BOARDERS. 67 

"I think Maria put her foot in it this time," 
said sister Jane, laughing heartily, as she returned 
from the door. "A nice woman she is to go 
around telling folks about the slurring remarks 
that other people have made about them, and aU 
the time a-prying around and nosing about to see 
what she can find out." 

It turned out that sister Jane was more than 
half serious when she said she intended to take 
day boarders. The idea dropped by Mrs. Roby 
grew day by day, until, on the advice of Mandy 
Satterlee, it developed into a fact. It was not 
wholly agreeable to me at first thought; but, on 
reflecting that it would get my sister out of the 
habit of tailoring, which seemed to grow on her 
year by year, and bring us both in contact with 
fairly pleasant people, I decided to offer no objec- 
tions whatever. Of this I was glad when expe- 
rience had convinced me that a certain degree of 
amusement, as well as instruction, is to be derived 
from listening to the small talk and studying the 
characters of a parcel of lively young men who 
regard life as a less serious problem than their 
elders are wont to do. 



VI. 

MISS MART BULLAED. 

The young men (as I have hinted) were no 
bother to me. They came with their light hearts 
and leaping hopes, enlivened each meal by their 
chatter, and then were off again. If a time came 
when I had no desire to hear their small talk, I 
had but to remain away from the table, knowing 
that either my sister or Mandy Satterlee would 
put by something for me. 

And so the days went by, winter giving place 
to the gradual approach of spring. One of the 
first intimations was the fluttering of a pair of 
bluebirds around a hollow post in the garden. 
Then came Miss Jennie Wren and her chosen one 
peeping about in my honeysuckle vine, and mak- 
ing an extraordinary disturbance for so small a 
pair when they saw Tommy Tinkins promenading 
in that neighborhood. Following hard upon their 
heels (if one may say so) a mocking-bird perched 
himself in the top of the cedar, and swinging as 
in a hammock, took it upon himself to show the 
other birds how they should deliver themselves of 
the songs that are native to their throats. Then 
the plum-trees put forth their forward blossoms. 



MISS MARY BULLARD. 69 

followed by the peach-trees, until, presently (in 
a night, as it were), spring was upon us, and 
Mary Bullard filled all the garden with her pres- 
ence, her beauty and innocence comparable only 
to the first shy flowers of the season. 

If her name has not been mentioned more fre- 
quently in these pages it is not because she ceased 
to play a definite part in the scenes, commonplace 
or otherwise, that were a part of our daily expe- 
rience. She was in and out of the house con- 
stantly, only the severest weather preventing her 
from paying a daily visit to sister Jane. It may 
have been my fancy, but it seemed to me that 
after she had been told the story of the finding of 
Mandy Satterlee in the snow and sleet on that 
bitter cold night, her manner was a shade more 
pensive than before. It was as if she had some- 
thing more serious to think about, some new and 
strange problem to unravel. When the weather 
became really fine, she would wander in the gar- 
den with a book, which she only read by snatches. 
Many a time, as she sat in the latticed summer- 
house, I have seen the book slip through her 
fingers and fall to the ground unnoticed, while 
she gazed into space lost in thought. I used to 
say to myself with a sigh, as I watched her from 
my covert of honeysuckle vines, that her thoughts 
were not my thoughts. She was blossoming into 
young womanhood, while my star of destiny (if 
perchance I had one) had already passed the 
zenith. 



70 SISTER JANE. 

Say what you will, there is a wide gap between 
twenty and thirty odd when these numbers mark 
the years. There is a wider gap still between a 
girl of nineteen or twenty, full of life and the joy 
of living, and an old man of thirty-five or forty, 
who begins to look backward instead of forward, 
and who sighs for the days that are gone instead 
of fixing expectation on those that are to come. 
Sir Thomas Browne says it is the heaviest stone 
melancholy can throw at a man to tell him he is 
at the end of his nature; but melancholy has 
pebbles which, on occasions, she fits to her sling. 
She throws a jagged one when, knocking at the 
door of a man's heart, she tells him that he has 
arrived at the age when love is not for him, that 
he has come to the period when youth and beauty 
must pass him by. I never looked at Mary Bul- 
lard but this jagged pebble came whizzing through 
the honeysuckle vines. Sometimes, indeed, it rat- 
tled harmless at my feet, but there were other 
times when it hit the mark and left a wound. 

It seemed to me that pensiveness added a new 
charm to Mary's beauty, or it may have been that 
her beauty lent a new charm to pensiveness. 
Sometimes she would leave her book and her hat 
in the summer house, and make our kitchen beau- 
tiful by her presence. There she would make 
herself agreeable to Mandy Satterlee, and such 
was her gift for attracting the love of all who 
knew her that Mandy, as she often said herself, 
came to worship the ground that Mary walked on. 



MISS MART BULL AMD. 71 

And Mandy was not without companionship in 
this ; she had her fellow worshippers. By instinct 
or intuition Mary Bullard seemed to know that 
here was a woman who stood in sore need of the 
sympathy of the innocent and pure-minded of her 
own sex. This Sympathy Mary gave to Mandy 
Satterlee in full measure, and found her reward 
in a devotion that was beautiful to behold. 

I found out long afterwards that sister Jane 
never told Mary the story of Mandy Satterlee 's 
troubles. Nor did my sister ever tell it to me; 
I only came to know it gradually, as it is unfolded 
in these pages. And I thank heaven that all the 
facts never came to Mary's ears until Providence 
had robbed the episode of some of the features 
that had else been such a severe shock to her 
innocence. 

Innocence! Her character, her conversation, 
every tone of her voice, every gesture of her 
hands, each glance of her eye, gave a new mean- 
ing and illumination to the word. This had been 
so borne in upon me that when Mrs. Sally Be- 
shears, on an occasion that has already been 
described, made some sneering remarks about 
Mary BuUard's father, the colonel, and hinted at 
some mistreatment of his brother, my surprise 
was not greater than my indignation, but, besides 
having a feeling of regard for Mrs. Beshears, I 
felt that I was no match for her in the bandying 
of words. Eeflecting on the matter afterwards 
and analyzing the motives that lay behind my 



72 SISTER JANE. 

indignation, I was soon enabled to discover that 
Mary Bullard was behind it, and, though the 
darkness of night enveloped me as a mantle, I 
could feel that the discovery carried the warm 
blood to my face. Try as I would, I could find 
no other motive. In my mind the innocence of 
Mary Bullard was a cover and protection for her 
father's good name. 

Something or other — I hardly knew what, for 
self-examination fails to reveal everything — the 
words of Mrs. Beshears became grounded in my 
memory, and I rarely saw Colonel Bullard go by 
in his stately and measured way without defend- 
ing him in my own mind from the haphazard and 
flippant attack that Mrs. Beshears had made on 
him; not an attack either, but merely a reckless 
hint of what she might say if she had a mind to. 
Sometimes I felt that the habit of solitary reflec- 
tion led me to exaggerate the importance of a 
chance word dropped from the tongue of an old 
woman who rarely took the trouble to measure the 
effect of her statements. Once I mentioned the 
matter to sister Jane, who had good judgment in 
such matters, but I got small consolation from her. 

"For the Lord's sake, William!" she ex- 
claimed, "what have you got to do with Colonel 
Bullard? He 's at one end of the block and 
you 're at the other. He 's attending to his busi- 
ness every day and not bothering you; why can't 
you attend to your business, if you 've got any, 
and not pester him? " 



MISS MART BULLARD. 73 

"But you heard what Mrs. Beshears said about 
him," I persisted. 

"I ain't so mighty certain of that, neither," 
said sister Jane. "As people talk, so I listen. 
Sally Beshears don't know what she 's going to 
say until the word 's out of her mouth, and by the 
time it 's out of her mouth, it 's out of her mind. 
But what have you got to do with Colonel Bul- 
lard's ups and downs, I 'd like to know?" 

"Well, there 's Mary," I suggested. 

"And what about Mary? " 

"She's his daughter." 

"Well, you are coming on! " cried sister Jane, 
lifting her eyebrows in a way I didn't like. 
"You are so tied up with yourself that I didn't 
know but you might think Mary was the colonel's 
grandmother. She was in here to-day, and said 
she did n't believe you had looked at her since she 
got back from ' Philamadelphy, ' as old Sol, the 
negro, calls it." 

"She's very much mistaken," I answered with 
some heat. 

"Don't get mad with the poor child. She 
was n't crying when she said it, I '11 tell you that." 

"I can well believe that," said I. "Why 
should she care whether I cast my eyes towards 
her or not? " 

"She doesn't," remarked sister Jane, with an 
emphasis I did not relish. "But it 's the honest 
truth, William, you don't treat Mary with com- 
mon politeness. She never comes in the house 



74 SISTER JANE. 

but you jump up and scramble about until you 
get your legs under you and then shuffle off to 
your den as if you were afraid the child would bite 
you. Why, if she had tushes and the will to do 
it, she couldn't gnaw through your hide in a 
week." 

There was enough truth in what sister Jane 
said to make it both disagreeable and embarrass- 
ing, and I felt myself growing red in the face. 

"I don't say you ought to follow her up and 
dawdle around her," sister Jane went on, repent- 
ing a little; "you 're too old for that; but you 've 
been knowing her ever since she was a little bit 
of a gal, and what 's the use of running away 
every time she darkens the door? 'T ain't been 
a week since she asked me what was the matter 
with you. I wanted to know what she meant, 
and she said you had changed so since she went 
off to school that she did n't know what to make 
of it." 

"Why, don't you see what the trouble is?" I 
cried. "The change is in her. She was a young 
girl when she went away, and when she came 
back she was a grown young woman." 

"That sort of talk is like lighting a candle in 
a dark room and then snuffing it out again. She 's 
changed from a girl to a likely young woman, but 
that 's no reason why you should act as if you was 
af eared she 'd eat you up the first chance she got. 
I declare if you wasn't my own blood kin, the 
way you do when that child comes in would be 



MISS MARY BULLARD. 75 

comical. I always have to think up some cock- 
and-bull story to account for it, because — reely 
— I don't want Mary to see how ridiculous you 
are." 

I turned and stalked out of the room with a 
show of indignation that was partly feigned and 
partly real, and I determined then and there to 
conduct myself with more dignity when Mary 
Bullard happened to find, me in sister Jane's 
room, or in that part of the house. 

One day, in reflecting over what sister Jane had 
said, it suddenly occurred to me that, by changing 
the subject in such a manner as to take me off my 
feet, she had neatly avoided expressing her opinion 
as to the truth or falsity of Mrs. Beshears's innu- 
endoes in regard to Colonel Bullard. But fortune 
(as I thought) seemed to favor my inquisitiveness 
in this matter, for it was not long before Mrs. 
Beshears, paying us one of her regular evening 
visits, happened to mention the name of Colonel 
Bullard. Whereupon I was prompt to remind 
her of the remarks she had made about him some 
months before. She laughed somewhat harshly, 
exchanged glances with sister Jane, which struck 
me as somewhat singular, and then looked into 
the flame of the candle. There was silence for 
a while, and then sister Jane spoke. 

"If all fools were fiddlers, Sally, we 'd know 
'em by the bag they 'd carry," she remarked. 

"That 's a true word, Jane," assented Mrs. 
Beshears. Then they both laughed, but, for my 



76 SISTER JANE. 

part, I was totally in the dark as to the canse of 
their merriment, and am to this day. 

"I'll tell you, William," said Mrs. Beshears, 
turning to me in a kindly way that was almost 
motherly, "you mustn't remember every word 
that the old woman lets drop. Sometimes she 's 
fretted, but that 's because she has a heap more 
on her mind than you 've any idee of. As you 
see Colonel BuUard now, so he 's been for many 
a long year. My advice, William, is for you to 
take folks as you find 'em, an' if they don't pester 
you, don't you pester them." 

"But you said something about his brother," 
I ventured to suggest. 

" Did I, reely ? " asked Mrs. Beshears. " Well, 
I might 'a' done it, because the colonel had a 
brother. You know, William, the colonel's folks 
moved here from the Goosepond settlement down 
yander in Wilkes, an' that 's where my folks 
come from. The colonel had a brother, there 
ain't no manner o' doubt about that. What did 
I tell you his name was, Jane? Oh, yes, Clar- 
ence — Clarence Bullard. He 'd be somewhere's 
about fifty year old if he 'd 'a' kept straight, but 
his daddy named him a book name." 

"A book name!" cried Mandy Satterlee, who 
was sitting near the candle-stand doing some 
mending. "Well, the lawsy massy! What kind 
of a name is that?" 

"A name took out of a book," replied Mrs. 
Beshears. "I've heard all my life that a name 



MISS MARY BULLARD. 77 

took out of a book is mighty apt to stunt a child, 
if it don't make him go wrong when he grows up. 
Well, when the colonel's brother was born, his 
daddy wanted a nice name for him, so he read 
and read in books, and bimeby he come across 
this name of Clarence, and he slapt it onto the 
poor little baby without knowin' or a-keerin' 
whether it fit or not." 

"Why, what is the matter with that name?" 
I asked in sOme surprise. 

"Matter!" exclaimed Mrs. Beshears. "Every- 
thing 's the matter with it. Did you ever hear of 
anybody named Clarence a-doin' a day's work in 
all your whole lifetime ? If you 've ever heard of 
it, jest let me know an' I '11 up an' make a black 
mark on the chimney-jam there." 

Mrs. Beshears looked at me so seriously that 
I was obliged to smile, seeing which, she resumed 
her argument, and in a way not very comfortable 
to me. 

"Take your own name," she said. "If Jane 
here had called you Bill, you would 'a' grow'd 
up to be a tall stout man, but she called you 
William, an' that stunted you in heft an' height. 
Don't tell me there ain't nothin' in a name. I 'm • 
lots too old to be fooled that a-way. Why, sup- 
posin' they'd 'a' called me Sarah, stidder Sal: 
what under the blue canopy would I 'a' looked 
like?" 

Truth to tell, I was both vexed and amused, 
but I was quick to remember that the wisest of 



78 SI8T£R JANE. 

men is no match for a shrewd woman's tongue. 
Moreover, I was fortunate enough to perceive 
that my anxiety to defend Colonel BuUard was 
ridiculous in the extreme. It came to me in a 
flash, when Mrs. Beshears inquired in a tone more 
solemn than usual : — 

"WiUiam, has the colonel got you hired in a 
law-case, or somethin' of that sort?" 

"No, ma'am!" I replied emphatically, realiz- 
ing the awkwardness of my position. "What 
put that queer idea into your head ? " 

"I didn't know," she answered. 

"What became of the colonel's brother?" I 
asked, more to hide my own confusion than to get 
the information I asked for. The brother was 
nothing to me. 

"Now that 's what pesters me," said Mrs. Be- 
shears reflectively. "The colonel was his guar- 
deen, but as soon as Clarence come of age, he 
took his name an' what little of his belongings 
that he had left and packed 'em all up in a carpet- 
sack, an' jest made a teetotal disappearance. But 
I most always say to myself, when I think about 
it, that nobody, not even the colonel, don't want 
any brother, when he 's got as handsome a gal as 
Mary BuUard. How is Mary, Jane? She ain't 
been out my way not sence the apples was in blos- 
som." 

Then the conversation drifted to matters in 
which I had no interest, and I took myself off to 
my room, to sit in the dark and have strange 



MISS MARY BULLARD. 79 

thoughts, and, when drowsiness overcame me, to 
go to bed and dream strange dreams. For, small 
as the room was, it was the door of the world to 
me, especially when the dark had fallen and the 
lights in the village had been put out one by one. 
I had but to enter it and set my fancy free, as 
a wild bird is loosed from a cage, and, lo! the 
stars became lanthorns to guide my imagination 
on her way. The dull world, where, of necessity, 
I had my board and lodging, went reeling and 
plunging through its shadow, leaving me far be- 
hind, or found me, when black midnight peered 
around the corner, journeying far ahead. It gave 
me pure joy to know and feel that I was not the 
awkward, commonplace mortal that my acquaint- 
ances knew; to feel that I could lift my thoughts 
as high as the heavens and claim an ownership in 
the whirling orbs of fire that I found there. 

But the earth is the earth, after all, and it was 
not without a feeling of satisfaction that I found 
my feet there after my nightly routs among the 
constellations. On this particular night, when I 
went to my room, after talking with sister Jane 
and Mrs. Beshears, my thoughts did not lift them- 
selves to the abiding-place of the serene stars. I 
had a vague idea that I had been made the victim 
of chaff. And then it suddenly occurred to me 
that Colonel BuUard had not passed through the 
garden on his way to and from his business since 
the day of the big snow. This struck me as a 
curious circumstance, for he had been in the 



80 SISTER JANE. 

habit of coming and going that way at least twice 
a day, especially of mornings, when he would 
look in and say a pleasant word to sister Jane 
(while Tommy Tinkins, the cat, hid imder the 
house) or remark to me in a cheery tone : — 

"How's business in the legal world, William? 
Not good, I hope, for when lawyers lack for 
clients it is a sign that neighbors are at peace." 

And then, without waiting for an answer, he 
would begin to hum a religious tune, and go on 
his way, dignified and benignant. Being in the 
habit of picking my own thoughts to pieces, as 
the negroes not very long ago picked the lint from 
the cotton-seed, I wondered why I had not missed 
the colonel's large presence from the garden some 
time before. Winter had become spring, and 
summer was putting on her robes, and yet, until 
now, I had not observed that Colonel BuUard no 
longer passed through the garden. If a shrub 
had been taken from the flourishing expanse, I 
should have missed it; if one of the little wrens 
nesting above the door had lost a feather from 
a wing, I should have known it; and how my 
observation had failed in the case of Colonel Bul- 
lard, I could not understand. If it had been 
Mary — but that was different, entirely different ; 
there is a certain atmosphere a beautiful girl car- 
ries with her that makes her presence felt. 

For weeks after this, I watched for the colonel 
to come through the garden, but he never came. 
Once I saw him, through force of habit, come 



MISS MARY BULLARD. 81 

part of the way, but lie turned suddenly, as though 
he had forgotten something, went back, and finally 
came along the sidewalk. I made it a point to be 
at our little gate when he passed by and gave him 
a good-morning as heartily as I could. He bowed 
coldly and formally, and failed to hum a tune, so 
far as I could hear. It was plain to the dullest 
eye that Colonel BuUard was worried about some- 
thing, and I could not help pitying him. 

Whatever his troubles were, they must have 
been serious. He did not hold his head erect as 
formerly, and he grew so absent-minded that he 
frequently went home on the sidewalk opposite his 
house, a proceeding that was so at variance with 
his usual methodical habits that the circumstance, 
though trifling, was remarked by others less ob- 
servant than myself. Others remarked also the 
gradual change in his manner. In this way these 
things were so borne in upon me, that I at length 
felt justified in mentioning the matter to sister 
Jane. I had intended to refer to them in sequence, 
but I got no farther than the fact that Colonel 
Bullard had ceased to pass to and fro through the 
garden. At this point sister Jane lifted up her 
voice. 

"Mandy! Mandy Satterlee!" she called at the 
top of her voice. Mandy, who was in the cook- 
room, came running in, brushing the flour from 
her bare arms. " Mandy, I wish you 'd take a 
quarter of an hour off, and go round the house 
and see if any of the walls has caved in, or if the 
underpinning has give way anywhere." 



82 SISTER JANE. 

A startled expression sprang into Mandy's face. 
"Why, Miss Jane I what under the canopies is 
the matter ? " 

" Why, William here says that Colonel Bullard 
actually don't come through the garden for to tell 
us howdy any more. If that 's so, I know there 
mdst have been a cave-in somewhere." 

Mandy Satterlee usually laughed at my sister's 
sallies, but this time surprise and expectation 
faded out of her face without giving place to 
amusement. She merely said, " We '11 hunt for 
it to-morrow," and went back to her cooking. 
As for me, I went out of the room with as much 
dignity as I could command under the circum- 
stances. 

But there came a time, and that shortly, when 
we all pitied Colonel Bullard and his family. 
Speaking for myself, I am free to say that I was 
both shocked and grieved, for the circumstances, 
so far as I know, were without parallel or prece- 
dent in our section of the Union. 



VII. 

THE PICTURES ON THE WALL. 

As may well be supposed, the observations that 
have been recorded here in regard to the peculiar 
conduct of Colonel Bullard covered not a week, 
nor a month, but a period embracing a part of 
spring and the whole of the summer following the 
big snow. Nor was I the only one who noted and 
commented on the change that had taken place in 
his manner. It had attracted the attention of 
almost everybody in the community. Some sug- 
gested that he was suffering from liver troubles, 
while others said that the bank failures had wor- 
ried him. In the entire village, I knew of but 
three people who were willing to admit that they 
could see no change in the colonel — sister Jane, 
Mrs. Beshears, and Mandy Satterlee — and two 
of them, I knew, had eyes as sharp as it is ever 
given to mortals to have. 

On one occasion, when the matter had become 
common to the gossip and chatter of the village, 
I heard Mrs. Sue Flewellen, who had come to 
see sister Jane for the express purpose, making 
such inquiries as would lead, ordinarily, to a dis- 
cussion of the colonel's mental, physical, and 
pecuniary condition. 



84 SISTEB JANE. 

"Er Jane, how is er Colonel BuUard now?" 
asked Mrs. FleweUen. 

" Well as common, Sue, I reckon. If he 's 
sick, it ain't come to my ears," replied sister 
Jane. 

"Er well, that is real funny, now. Why, er 
Jane, they say he's going er ofE into a decline." 

"He may be for all I know," was the unsatis- 
factory response. "Nobody ain't too good to go 
into a decline when the time comes. It 's what 
everybody has to expect some time or other." 

"Oh, but, er Jane, you must er have noticed 
the change in er Colonel Bullard — it's er such 
a change ! I declare ! I er feel real sorry for his 
er wife and family. Why, er Jane, he 's not the 
same man; he 's er no more like Colonel er Bul- 
lard used to be than er I am." 

"Well, I'll take a good look at the colonel 
next time I see him," said sister Jane, "and see 
what 's the matter with him. If he looks like he 
needs any physic, I '11 tell him to go and see old 
Free Betsey. If she can't cure him, she can 
conjure him." 

"Oh, it's er awful, Jane — and you've never 
er noticed it! " 

"Sue," remarked sister Jane, with solemn 
emphasis, "a man's no more to me than a jay- 
bird. I hear a flutter in the chaney-berry tree, 
and look up and see a jaybird. I hear somebody 
stepping along as big as if he owned the town, 
and I look up and see a man. The bird hops off 



THE PICTURES ON THE WALL. 85 

and the man wallis on. Out of sight, out of 
mind. If Colonel Bullard was to come and set 
in that cheer there, I might notice that he wasn't 
looking well, but that 's about all. Why, I 
wouldn't know whether WiUiam was well or not 
(and he 's here in the house) if he wasn't so help- 
less and good for nothing that I have to take pity 
on him." 

Now, I would have taken it for granted that 
sister Jane was merely playing with Mrs. Flewel- 
len if she hadn't made a like reply to my own 
questions — a reply not in the same terms, but to 
the same purport. Mrs. Beshears had seen no- 
thing queer about the colonel, nor had Mandy 
Satterlee, who, indeed, was not expected to note 
any change, having been born and bred some dis- 
tance from the village. 

But we soon became used to whatever change 
of demeanor Colonel Bullard may have displayed. 
Gradually his old dignity reasserted itself; he 
began to hum religious tunes again; and if he 
was not as cordial to me as formerly he had been, 
he was polite. But he came through the garden 
no more, continuing to pass on the opposite side 
of the street in going to and from his home. So 
that what had been for a time the occasion of 
much talk was soon forgotten, especially by those 
who had made the matter the subject of aimless 
gossip. 

Meanwhile summer had drawn away into au- 
tumn. The skies were filled with the mystic haze 



86 SISTER JANE. 

that marks the season, and the gray green of the 
great woods stretching away on all sides deepened 
into more sombre tints, or blazed forth in scarlet, 
crimson, and yellow. The roses bloomed in their 
richest beauty, and the crisp cool nights and the 
dewy mornings were a sufficient compensation for 
the heat of the days. 

It was on one of these fine mornings that my 
attention was called to a group of men and chil- 
dren — white and black — standing in front of 
the. dead wall of an old building on the opposite 
side of the street. During the night the wall had 
been covered with flaming pictures, and it was 
these that had caught the eye of the crowd. I 
could hear the negroes and the children making 
many exclamations of wonder, while the white 
men seemed to be absorbed in studying the gaudy 
pictures. To satisfy my own curiosity, I crossed 
the street, and saw that these immense bills were 
intended to inform the public at large that Rob- 
inson & Eldred's circus and menagerie would 
pitch its tent and display its wonders on the date 
set forth, which, as I have good reason to remem- 
ber, was the third day of the first week jn Novem- 
ber, the bills having been posted sufficiently in ad- 
vance of that time for all the country-side to have 
notice served on it that the wonderful show was 
coming. 

A great many people in the village had heard 
of circuses, but not more than half a dozen had 
ever seen one — merchants who traveled once a 



THE PICTURES ON THE WALL. 87 

year to Augusta, Charleston, or New York to lay- 
in supplies of goods. These favored ones brought 
back wonderful reports of the sights they had 
seen at the show, and the flaming bills now spread 
forth on the walls seemed to be a confirmation of 
their reports. I sympathized somewhat with the 
natural curiosity of the community, strange as it 
may seem, and presently found myself as deeply 
absorbed in studying the pictures as the most 
enthusiastic urchin in the crowd — so absorbed, 
indeed, that sister Jane was obliged to send for 
me, her messenger being the negro boy whose 
business it was to wait on the table. 

"Marse Willyum," said that grinning imp, 
"Miss Jane say mus' she sen' yo' brekkus out 
yer, er mus' she put it back in de oven? Kaze 
de bell done ringded en' dem ar yuther white 
folks eatin' hard ez dey kin." 

Seeing that the boy enjoyed my embarrassment, 
I slipped away from the crowd, and went to break- 
fast. To forestall the sarcastic remarks that I 
thought would be directed at me by sister Jane, 
I gave Mandy Satterlee a full description of the 
wonders pictured forth on the gaudy bills. 

"Well, the lawsy massy!" cried Mandy, gen- 
uinely amazed. "What '11 folks do next? Mr. 
William, you reckon them folks reely ride a-stan- 
in' on the'r heads, an' you reckon the gals reely 
skip the rope an' jump through the hoop while 
the bosses is a-gallopin' ? I lay they jest put that 
in the picturs to git you in the show an' git your 



88 SISTER JANE. 

money. I '11 go right over after I clean up the 
things an' take a look at 'em for myself." 

To my surprise, sister Jane displayed consider- 
able enthusiasm about the circus. 

"I '11 go if I have to sell my Sunday bonnet," 
she declared with emphasis. "I haven't been on 
a frolic since I went to a picnic in the Glades 
before William there was born — and you can tell 
by looking at him that that 's been a mighty long 
time ago." 

Mandy Satterlee applauded sister Jane's pur- 
pose very heartily, and when she had washed the 
dishes and put the kitchen to rights, she took her 
baby on her arm — he was now a bouncing young- 
ster, able to walk about the house — and went 
across the street to get a closer view of the show 
bills. By this time the curiosity of the small 
boys had been satiated, or they had gone to other 
quarters of the town where other pictures had 
been posted, as I noticed later. At any rate, 
Mandy and her baby were not disturbed by other 
spectators. While they were standing there. 
Colonel Bullard came out of his house, crossed 
over, as was his habit, and walked down the 
street. He would be compelled to pass within a 
few feet of the flaring pictures. 

I determined to watch him narrowly and observe 
whether his troubles, whatever they might be, had 
washed curiosity out of his nature. He came 
down the street, turning his head neither to the 
right nor the left. Mandy's baby had demanded 



TEE PICTURES ON THE WALL. 89 

a closer acquaintance with one of the big red 
horses, and to satisfy him, she had gone near 
the picture to allow the youngster to slap it with 
his hand, and make various ineffectual efforts 
to secure it. She was standing thus when Colonel 
Bullard passed by. He turned his head in a 
stately manner, looked hard at the pictures (as it 
seemed) and then hurried on. He went a few 
steps, paused, turned back, and then, catching a 
glimpse of me, whirled on his heel, and went down 
town, going a little more rapidly than usual. 

I saw it all at a glance. Here was the colonel 
passing by the pictures. He read in a moment 
the big letters that explained them, but considered 
that it would be beneath his dignity and standing 
to pause and satisfy his curiosity. Then, when 
he passed on, the temptation to give them a clear 
examination was so strong that he turned again, 
saw me, and, rather than compromise his dignity, 
beat a retreat. This was the explanation I made 
of the event to sister Jane, who, to my surprise, 
seemed to be more interested in Colonel BuUard's 
actions than in the show bills, for she was particu- 
lar to have me describe every motion he made and 
every step he took. Mandy Satterlee heard a 
part of the description. 

"How nigh was I to him when he passed?" 
she asked in a low voice. 

"You might have put forth your hand and 
touched him," I replied. 

"Ugh!" she exclaimed with a shudder. "I 



90 SISTER JANE. 

reckon it 's a mighty good thing I did n't see 
him." 

"Why, you needn't be afraid of him," said I; 
"though he is dignified and serious, he is not 
severe." 

Sister Jane laughed aloud, and Mandy smiled 
faintly. 

"I declare, William Wornum! for a grown 
man you 're as big a goose as ever nibbed green 
grass. You 've pored and pored over them books 
in yander till you can't make head nor tail out of 
anything that ain't to be found betwixt their leds. 
Why, you 've got so you talk like 'em. ' Don't 
be afeared,'" she went on, mimicking my tone 
and air; "'though he's dignified and serious, he 
ain't severe.' Now, who on top of the globe (or 
on the bottom of it, either, for that matter), ever 
heard of anybody talking that way outside the 
leds of a book too big to tote? " 

"Well, in the books that I read I can find out 
everything I want to know — everything that is 
worth knowing," I replied. 

"What books? " asked my sister. 

"The Bible, Shakespeare, Montaigne, and Sir 
Thomas Browne." 

"As for the Bible, well and good," commented 
sister Jane. "But if I 've ever caught you read- 
ing it more 'n twice, I hope I may never see the 
back of my neck. As for the balance, one was 
a play-actor, and nobody couldn't expect any 
better of him; and the t'others nobody ever heard 



THE PICTURES ON THE WALL. 91 

of till you fished 'em out of some trash pile. 
Now, I want to ask you," she continued — "when 
will Mandy here have gray hair? " 

"Nobody knows," I answered. 

"You mean you can't find out in your books," 
she said; "but I can tell you when her hair will 
turn gray." 

"When?" 

"When she's afeared of Colonel BuUard," 
exclaimed sister Jane, somewhat snappishly. 

Of course it was beyond my power to carry on 
an argument in behaK of my favorite books with 
any hope of silencing sister Jane, so I did as many 
a wiser man has done before me — sought comfort 
in the books themselves, and found it there ; be- 
coming for the moment as oblivious to the joys, 
sufferings, vainglories, and hard trials of this 
world as the writers were themselves, who long 
ago had been taken to the restful bosom of our 
old mother, the earth. 

And I had another means of diversion that had 
gradually come to me unawares, and that I could 
turn to when my mind grew too dull to find enjoy- 
ment in my books — Mandy Satterlee's baby. 
This rosy urchin grew in strength, if not in grace, 
and had somehow taken a great fancy to me. Before 
he could walk, he began to wriggle to my door on 
hands and knees, and made his presence known by 
bumping his head against the panels — becoming, 
in this way, a sort of baby battering-ram. I was 
under no necessity of standing on ceremony with 



92 SISTER JANE. 

this visitor. If his coming was not ill-timed, I 
opened the door; if it was, I had but to remain 
silent, and presently he would wriggle himself 
away, perfectly content. 

In the turmoil and confusion that Mandy Sat- 
terlee became the centre of, after the child foimd 
its way into this vain world, she had neglected or 
forgotten to give it a name. She called it Mo- 
ther's Precious, and that was all; but sister Jane, 
more versatile if less felicitous, had bestowed on 
the youngster a handful of names, all supposed to 
bear some relation to one another. She called 
him Klubs, Klibs, Klubbins, Klibbins, and 
Keezes, indifferently, and he, as indiiferently, 
answered to any or all. Out of this quaint collec- 
tion I chose two for my own use — Klibs and 
Keezes; so that in one humor I called him Klibs, 
and in another Keezes. 

Now, there were occasions when Klibs came 
knocking at my door that I was glad to open to 
him. Especially was this the case when I had 
spent an hour or two in court, fiddling over the 
trifling details of a petty lawsuit, or when my own 
thoughts wearied me and books had temporarily 
lost their flavor. For I had no reason to be on 
my dignity with Keezes. I could speak to him 
gravely on matters that concerned me most, or I 
could be as nonsensical as I chose. I could even 
go off into a rhapsody, or impart to him secrets 
that I should have blushed to whisper to other 
ears. It was all one to Klibs. There was a per- 



THE PICTURES ON THE WALL. 93 

feet understanding between us. He would sit for 
long minutes staring at me with owl-like wisdom 
while I talked to him, and when I was compelled 
to pause for want of breath, he would give me to 
understand, with some show of impatience, that 
he longed for more of the attic eloquence for 
which (within these four walls) I was famous. 

In this way, and with such intermissions as the 
nature of the case called for, Keezes and I used 
to spend hours together — hours that were most 
pleasantly and profitably spent, so far as I was 
concerned. Sometimes his mother would inter- 
rupt us, fearing that the baby was troublesome. 
If Klibs was ready to go, he would permit him- 
self to be carried off without a murmur ; otherwise 
he would crawl behind my chair and squall lustily 
if any attempt were made to remove him. I grew 
very fond of the child in consequence, for even a 
baby can flatter our vanity. We love those who 
love us, or, if we do not love them, we give them 
cause to think we do, which (until we come to the 
end of all things, and our manifold hypocrisies 
confront and overwhelm us), amounts to pretty 
much the same thing. 

Whether Keezes was wiser than any other baby 
is not for me to say. My experience in such 
matters was circumscribed. But he had traits 
and predispositions that I found profitable to 
study. Long before he could talk, he seemed to 
understand the high-flown statements which, with 
an affectation of solemnity, I was in the habit of 



94 SISTER JANE. 

making to him. If he reached forth a dirty hand 
to touch a book, I had but to say: "Nay, nay, 
Keezes! touch not, taste not, handle not. Go 
cleanse the disreputable member." Whereupon 
he would look hard at his hand and presently fall 
to picking the ravelings in the frayed edge of the 
rag carpet, listening patiently all the while to 
whatever discourse I might choose to pour into his 
unprotected ear. He had the gift of patience, a 
quality that, admirable in man, amounts to genius 
in a child. I can say now, even at this writing, 
that Klibs was the only genius I ever was on 
familiar terms with. He had taste, too, for he 
was exceedingly fond of Mary BuUard ; and dis- 
cretion : I have seen him carry a rose in his hand 
for an hour and never destroy one of its petals. 
It was thus an easy matter for a man, enamored 
of solitude and impatient of needless interruptions, 
to tolerate — nay, to enjoy — the companionship 
of this quaint baby, whose very name had been 
blotted out by the bar sinister. 

As the time for the circus drew near, the expec- 
tation, that was on tiptoe, had the ground cut 
from under its feet by the protests that were 
made from the pulpit. These protests might have 
been anticipated, but they were not; and they 
caused as much of a splutter as the pouring of a 
gourd full of cold water in a hot oven. The very 
name of the village — Hallyton — might have 
been a warning to those who knew its origin. 
When the settlement was founded by pioneer 



THE PICTURES ON THE WALL. 95 

emigrants from Wilkes County, the church that 
was built gave its name to the place. It was 
called Bethel. Travelers passing through, later, 
on their way to and from the Indian trading- 
posts, always found the people of Bethel carrying 
on a religious revival. Among these travelers 
were to be found many ungodly men, who scof- 
fingly gave Bethel the name of Hallyloo — by way 
of indicating the extreme piety of the people. 
The name stuck so fast that when the settlement 
grew into a village and became the county site, 
the people met together and compromised the 
matter by giving to the place the name of Hally- 
ton. 

Now, the lapse of years, if it had not intensi- 
fied, had by no means dimmed the piety that 
provoked the ridicule of the scoffers. Conse- 
quently, the pillars of the church, as such men as 
Colonel Bullard were called, began a crusade 
against the sin of circus-going (which, indeed, 
owing to the absence of active temptation, was 
not very prevalent amongst us) much to the disgust 
of the younger generation. What real effect the 
crusade had is beyond conjecture. It caused some 
hard feelings in the different congregations, but it 
gave everybody something to talk about. Mrs. 
Sue Flewellen came all the way across the village 
(and it was a pretty step, too) to tell sister Jane 
that she heard Mrs. Lucindy Winslett say that 
Mrs. Cosby had declared that she heard Mrs. 
Printup say that if she had known all this fuss 



96 SISTER JANE. 

was to be made over one poor little show (and it 
must be a mighty poor show to come to such a 
town as this) she would never have joined the 
church until the last of November; and she didn't 
care who knew it or who heard her say it. 

"What sort of religion do you call that ? " in- 
quired sister Jane, sarcastically. 

"Oh, er don't ask ?we, Jane, er ask most any- 
body er but me. Er between you and me, er 
Jane, I 'd give anything to go to er that circus. 
Pony Harvey er has been to see it, and he says 
it 's er just grand; er the finest music he ever er 
listened at, and er bangles and er spangles till 
you er want to quit er lookin' at 'em." 

"If you want to go, why don't you go?" sister 
Jane asked sharply. "You are white and free, 
and mighty nigh twice twenty-one if not more. 
What 's to hender you from going?" 

"Er well, you know how they er talk. Why, 
I 'd er never hear the last of it. Er when folks 
move in the er first circles, Jane, er like you and 
me, the very least er thing they do is er picked 
up and er turned over, and er looked at, and so 
er we 've got to toe the er line. We 've made it 
and er we 've got to toe it, Jane ; you know that 
er yourself." 

"In the first circles?" cried sister Jane, with 
unmixed amazement. 

"Why, of er course, Jane." 

Sister Jane laughed heartily. "Well, Sue," 
she said, "you know I used to tell you at school 



THE PICTURES ON THE WALL. 97 

that you wa'n't right bright. I can tell you now 
that you ain't improved a bit. You 've hit off 
a joke and you don't laugh at it. What in the 
world is the matter with you? Why don't you 
laugh at your own fun. First circles! and in 
Ashbank deestrict! Why, I'll get WiUiam to 
put it down and send it to old Billy Grier to put 
in his almanac." 

"I declare, er Jane! You turn everything 
into er fun. No matter about the er place; some- 
body is er bound to be on top." 

Sister Jane suddenly grew serious. " Sue Flew- 
ellen, what can out-float trash?" 

Mrs. Flewellen gave up the contest by chang- 
ing the subject. Fortunately for my peace of 
mind, none of sister Jane's acquaintances took 
her sharp comments seriously. The older ones 
were inured to their twang and flavor, and the 
younger ones enjoyed the humor that inspired 
them. When wit and tenderness go into partner- 
ship in the same mind, the product is humor. 

Meanwhile, it is to be observed that as the day 
for the circus approached, sister Jane became more 
and more undecided as to whether she should go or 
stay away, and she remained undecided to the last 
moment. 



vm. 

THE CIECUS COMES TO TOWN. 

The day set for the circus dawned clear and 
warm. There had been a frost the night before, 
but the first rays of the morning sun drove it out 
of sight and out of mind. One of the summer's 
brood of mocking-birds that had been reared in 
the garden was trying his pipes in the big cedar. 
He sang so low that, to the unpracticed ear, he 
would have seemed to be far away; but I knew 
that he was not ten feet from my little porch. 
He paused every now and then to listen, and well 
he might, for, early as it was, there was a great 
stir in the village. The white boys and negroes 
and even some of the white men were running 
about in great excitement, for the circus had 
arrived during the night, or in the early hours 
of dawn. Indeed, even then I could hear the 
lumbering sound of heavy wagons in the road 
behind the tavern, and when I opened my door I 
could catch the whinnying sound of hungry horses. 
Sallying forth after breakfast I could see, from 
the corner of the public square, dozens of men 
currying and rubbing down piebald horses and 
ponies — an operation that was watched with both 



THE CIRCUS COMES TO TOWN. 99 

interest and awe by all the urchins in the village, 
white and black, that were able to get away from 
home at that hour. In the big vacant lot behind 
the tavern I could see the tops of the centre-pole 
and the smaller poles, suggesting the illusion that 
a big ship had saUed up in the night and cast 
anchor there. 

Later, when I returned home, I found a 
stranger leaning by the gate in an expectant atti- 
tude. He was a stranger, but I thought I had 
seen him before, and so I bowed pleasantly as 
I paused before entering. There was a sullen 
expression on his face, and I thought I could 
catch the odor of rum about him, but he bowed 
politely, and said : — 

"Ef this is Mr. Wornum, I wish you'd tell 
Mandy Satterlee that her brother would like 
mighty well to see her." 

"Did you knock at the door? " I asked. 

"Yes, I did," he replied, "an' I heard a shuf- 
flin' of feet in thar, but nobody ain't come to the 
door. Jest tell Mandy that Bud wants to see her 
an' tell her good-by. She '11 know. She allers 
useter call me Bud before" — he paused, cleared 
his throat, and then stood staring at the ground 
and pulling nervously at the lappels of his shabby 
coat. 

"Wait one moment," I said. "I'll send her 
at once." 

But when I opened the door, and went in search 
of Mandy, I found both her and sister Jane labor- 



100 SIST£R JANE. 

ing under a strange excitement. Mandy, white 
as a sheet and trembling, was clinging to sister 
Jane and begging her not to go to the door. 
Sister Jane, armed with the fire-stick (a heavy- 
piece of metal weighing four or five pounds), and 
as red in the face as Mandy was white, was wav- 
ing her weapon in the air, and making an effort 
to get to the door. 

"Get out of my way, Mandy Satterlee!" she 
was saying. "If you are afraid of the vagabond, 
I ain't. Get out of the way, and let me brain 
him where he stands." 

"Tut-tut! " I cried; "what does all this mean? 
What is the trouble?" 

Sister Jane quieted down at once. I think she 
felt that I was laughing in my sleeve, for she then 
and there told me that the man at her door was 
the very rascal and vagabond (I use her own de- 
scriptive epithets) who had brought Mandy away 
from home and to town that bitter cold night, and 
left her to freeze to death at our door. 

"He ast me to do somethin', and I said I 'd do 
it," said Mandy, thinking the explanation would 
stand for an excuse, "but when I got to town I 
jest couldn't do it, not ef I 'd 'a' died for it." 

"Are you afraid of him? " I asked. 

"Afeard of Bud!" she exclaimed. "Why, 
no more 'n I am of ol' Tommy Tinkins." 

"Then go to the door," I said. "He 's waiting 
for you." 

"Go and stand close by," sister Jane com- 



THE CIRCUS COMES TO TOWN. 101 

manded, "and if the vagabond says a word out of 
the way, run out and brain him." 

To ease my sister's mind, I went as far as the 
inner door of my room and stood there. I thus 
became an eavesdropper without intending it. 
The outer door being open, every word that passed 
between Mandy and her brother was conveyed to 
my ears as distinctly as if I had been standing 
between the two. 

"Howdy, Bud? How 's ever'body? They 
don't miss me much, I reckon." Neither interest 
nor concern could be detected in Mandy's tone, 
and yet I knew that her mind was controlled by 
both. 

There was a pause. The brother, as I judged, 
though I could not see him, was looking at the 
sister carefully, examining her clothes and every 
feature of her face. 

"You look like you 're doin' mighty well," he 
remarked presently. "You ain't never comin' 
back to the settlement, I reckon ? " 

"No, I reckon not. They hain't nobody out 
there that 'd want to see me, an' they 's a whole 
passel of folks not so mighty fur from there that 
I don't want to see." There was a touch of sad- 
ness in Mandy's voice, as she said this. 

"Well, there '11 be one left out thar when I 'm 
gone that 'd like to see you mightily," remarked 
her brother. 

"I 'd like to know who," said Mandy. 

"Jincy." 



102 SISTER JANE. 

"Jiney Meadows? Well, the laws 'a' massy! 
what under the canopy does he want to see me for 
— now? " 

"Well," said the brother, slowly, "you know 
how Jincy is. Folks useter eaU him quare, an' 
some say' now he 's a half-wit — one o' these here 
moon-calves — but Jincy 's been mighty good to 
me lately. He don't run into any of his whimsies 
when he talks to me. I know right p'int-blank 
that he 's got more sense than half the people in 
the county. He may n't come to see you, but ef 
he does, don't give him the back of your hand." 

"Does he know? " asked Mandy, sadly. 

"Who? Jincy? He knows ever'thing, but 
you 'd never find it out by his common ever 'day 
talk." 

There was a pause — a longer pause than usual. 
Then the brother said : — 

" I jest drapped in to say good-by. I hope you 
ain't got nothin' agin' me, sis." 

This was too much for Mandy. She broke 
down. "Anything agin' you, Bud? Oh, me! 
Oh, me!" she sobbed, "the shoe's on t'other 
foot. It 's you that oughter have ever'thing ag'in 
me. Oh, me ! Bud, I 'm lots sorrier for you 
an' for mammy an' pap than I am for myself. 
They 're dead an' gone, but, oh, me! I couldn't 
bear to look at the'r graves. It 'd kill me." 

"Don't cry, sis," said the brother. "The folks 
in the house '11 hear you, an' think I 'm doggin' 
at you. Hush, honey! Don't you be afeard but 



THE CIRCUS COMES TO TOWN. 103 

what I '11 make that man pay for it! " There was 
a ring of genuine passion in his voice. "I wanted 
to kill him, an' I oughter 'a' done it, but I '11 do 
wuss 'n that. I '11 let him live an' eat the bread 
he 's made you an' me eat. You won't see me no 
more for a mighty long time, but you '11 know 
when that man has been paid back. Great God, 
sis! when I think of mammy an' pap a-lyin' out 
thar in the woods " — 

"But they 're not lyin' there on account o' that. 
Bud — not on account o' that!" cried Mandy, 
wildly. 

"No, honey, not on that account. But when 
I think of 'em — sis, jest say the word, an' I '11 
go an' kill 'im right now an' come back an' show 
you his damned blood! It won't take me ten 
minutes." 

"Oh, for the Lord's sake. Bud, don't make 
matters wuss. They 're bad enough now. One 
more tetch, an' I 'd topple over. Don't do no- 
thin' wrong, Bud. Don't put yourself where you'll 
be hunted down like a wild creetur. I'll git down 
on my knees to you, Bud, ef you '11 only promise." 

After a pause, the brother said: "Well, good- 
bye, sis; ef I live, you'll see me ag'in; ef I 
don't, it don't make no difference. I ain't no 
good nohow." 

"Oh, don't say that. Bud! please don't! Ef 
you ain't no good it 's because of me. Oh, don't 
leave that hard sayin' a-ringin' in my ears! " 

AU the answer that Mandy Satterlee got was a 



104 SISTEB JANE. 

short harsh laugh. I heard the gate slammed 
to, and knew that the queer interview was over. 
I turned to go away, but came near running over 
sister Jane, who was standing at my elbow listen- 
ing with all her ears. 

"What is the matter?" she cried. Having 
cooled off, she was as practical as ever. "There 
is no need to break your neck or to cripple me. 
The man is not after you." 

There was, indeed, no need for haste in the 
matter, for Mandy Satterlee, instead of coming 
into the house, had gone to the gate, where she 
stood and watched her brother until he was out of 
sight. I was so puzzled by some of the remarks 
I had heard, that I wanted to ask sister Jane 
about them, but the matter was an extremely deli- 
cate one, and, besides, she gave me no fitting 
O2:)portunity. By the time Mandy came into the 
house we were sitting in sister Jane's room — I '11 
not say quietly, for my sister, whose temper had 
already been ruffled, was giving me a lecture 
about the precipitate way in which I had run 
against her. 

"AYhere's Mother's Precious?" said Mandy. 
Lifting the baby in her arms, she held it against 
her breast as she rocked to and fro, and had what 
sister Jane called "a good cry." Klibs appeared 
to appreciate the situation, for he patted his 
mother's face gently, and held his soft and rosy 
cheek against hers as long as she showed any signs 
of grief. 



THE CIRCUS COMES TO TOWN. 105 

"I declare!" she exclaimed, when her tears 
had spent themselves; "Bud has got a heart as 
tender as any human bem' that ever lived — a 
good heart an' a bad temper." 

"You'd 'a' better let me gone out there and 
brained him," remarked sister Jane, snappishly. 
" ' Bud, ' as you call him, will do you some big 
damage yet. You mark my words." 

" Oh, no — no ! I'm the one that ought to be 
brained. I 'm the one that 's done the damage — 
to myself an' to ever'body else that 's kin to me." 

Mandy's tears were beginning to flow afresh, 
when sister Jane put an end to the scene. "Put 
that child down or give him to me, and go and 
see about dinner. The tavern bell will be ringing 
directly, and we won't have ours in the pot, much 
less on the table." 

She spoke in a peremptory tone, but I knew that 
she did it to take Mandy's mind off her troubles. 
It was effectual, too, for in less than a quarter of 
an hour Mandy could be heard, above the rattling 
of the pots and pans, singing an old folk song. 
But the song had a peculiarly plaintive air, so 
that it must have rhymed with her thoughts. 

I sat listening to the song, my mind wandering 
back to the days of my youth, when, suddenly, a 
blare of trumpets and a clash of cymbals in the 
street drowned both song and memories, and I 
knew the parade of the circus was going by. It 
was a brave sight for the children and negroes 
and for those grown people who are not a ecus- 



106 SISTER JAN'S. 

tomed to look below the surface of things ; but to 
me the tawdriness of the affair was most manifest 
and pitiful. The men and women strove in vain 
to look gay. The toggery they wore was faded 
and tarnished; the horses were lean and jaded; 
the red paint on the wagons had been sobered by 
wind and rain; the very plumes that waved so 
proudly in the headstalls of the horses were dirty 
and bedraggled. There was nothing entrancing 
about the affair but the music ; nothing gay but 
the painted clown who rode a diminutive mule, 
and even his gayety was a matter of paint and 
grimace. 

And so the cheap procession passed, carrying 
with it a surging crowd that had gathered in the 
village from all parts of the county. I turned 
away from it with a feeling akin to melancholy, 
perceiving in a dim way that the tawdry empti- 
ness of the thing bore some relation to the social 
parade which, however great or small, passes 
before the eyes of every observant person. This 
idea led me into a reverie from which I was 
aroused by the laughing voice of Mary Bullard in 
conversation with sister Jane. Presently I heard 
them coming, and before I could escape by the 
outer door of my room, they were upon me. 

"Don't run, "William; we are not ready to eat 
you yet; we 'd need a sack of salt and a week of 
preparation for that," said sister Jane. 

"Yes; do come back, Mr. "William, and hear 
us for our cause, as one of your dear friends said 



THE CIRCUS COMES TO TOWN. 107 

in Rome," laughed Mary BuUard. "Tell him what 
it is, please," she went on, turning to sister Jane. 

"Oh, no, Mary, that would never do. Tell 
him yourself. He always makes a wry face when 
I want him to do anything." 

"Please don't look so solemn, Mr. William," 
cried Mary BuUard, opening her beautiful eyes, 
and folding her white hands with a pretty air. 
"It isn't much we want him to do, is it?" She 
turned to sister Jane to confirm her statement. 

"It ain't anything at all," placidly remarked 
her ally. 

"Shall I tell him?" she asked again in a hesi- 
tating way that but enhanced her loveliness. Re- 
ceiving an encouraging nod from sister Jane, 
Mary went on: "It's this, Mr. William — 
mamma says that I may go to the circus if you 
and Miss Jane will go with me." 

"But" — I began. 

"Please say yes, Mr. William!" she cried, 
coming closer and laying her hand on my arm. 
Light as the touch was, it sent the blood mount- 
ing to my face, seeing which, she blushed also, 
and turned and leaned against sister Jane. 

"I was about to observe," I stammered, "that 
it is very curious " — 

"Take a chair, Mary, and make yourself com- 
fortable," said sister Jane, sarcastically. "Law- 
yer Wornum is about to make one of his cele- 
brated speeches before the Jestice court. I wish 
to goodness old Judge Bowden was here! " 



108 SISTER JANE. 

"Now, I don't think that 's right," cried Mary, 
protesting, but laughing, too. "I know Mr. 
William will say the right word at the right time. 
He always does." 

I swallowed my embarrassment with a gulp. 
"Why, of course, we wiU go with you. Miss 
Mary. What need to ask ? We were going any- 
how." This last statement, I could see, rather 
took the edge off. There was a change in the 
young lady's countenance too subtle to describe. 

"He's fibbing," said sister Jane. "He never 
had no more idea of going to that circus than he 
had of flying to the moon. I wanted to go myself, 
but I did n't dast to. I 'm mighty glad you come 
running at me with a ready-made excuse." 

"Well, it 's such a little fib, we '11 forgive it," 
remarked Mary. "Mamma kept putting me off, 
but finally said I could go if Mr. William and 
you would take me. She never had the slightest 
idea you were going." 

"We had no such intention," said I, boldly 
going back to the truth. "But now I wouldn't 
miss it for anything." 

Sister Jane regarded me curiously. "Why, 
William!" she exclaimed, "you are coming out. 
I didn't know you had it in you." 

"But I knew it all the while," Mary declared, 
with such an air of sincerity that I felt the blood 
mounting to my face again, and saw it rising in 
hers. 

"Mamma didn't know I was such a politician," 



THE CIRCUS COMES TO TOWN. 109 

she remarked. "When I go back, she '11 look 
frightened and whisper, ' what will your father 
say?' and I'll laugh and promise to teU papa 
about it myself after it is all over." 

So it was settled that Mary BuUard, sister Jane, 
and myself were to go to the circus to hear what 
was to be heard and see what was to be seen. 
We were both ready when Mary BuUard came 
tripping down the garden walk. I do not know 
what changes she had made in her apparel, or 
how the trick was done — perhaps it was my fool- 
ish imagination — but it seemed possible that she 
had just stepped out of fairyland; a woman of 
flesh and blood, and yet so radiantly beautiful as 
to suggest some turn of magic. 

I was afraid that I would carry my awkward- 
ness with me, but Mary disposed of it in a moment. 
When we started, she placed her hand on my 
arm, not lightly, but confidingly, and from that 
moment I was a new man, and have never been 
quite the same since. 

The circus was all a dream to me. I remember 
that there was a dingy weather-beaten tent, a 
crowd of people standing outside, and inside a sea 
of faces, with its waves piled above one another, 
row on row; I remember that I had to give a firm 
hand to Mary as we climbed upward to be lost in 
this sea; I remember a confusion of music, a 
whirling panorama of horses and riders, a painted 
clown who danced about and caused the people to 
shout themselves hoarse ; I even remember sister 



110 SISTER JANE. 

Jane's awful frown when a woman in skirts that 
hardly reached her knees came tripping forth and 
was lifted to a horse's back. I remember these 
things, and I remember that Mary always leaned 
a little closer to me when some daring or danger- 
ous feat was in course of performance ; but beyond 
this everything was vague. There was Mary Bal- 
lard sitting next me, leaning against me. That 
was all I knew or felt, but that was enough. If 
the whole affair, tent, audience, horses — every- 
thing — had been lifted in the air, leaving me 
sitting there with Mary Bullard, I should have 
been none the wiser until Mary herself had called 
my attention to it. 

But it was over all too soon for me. It seemed 
but a few moments, before the people began to 
crowd towards the entrance of the tent. 

"Is this all? Is the show at an end? " I cried. 

"Why, yes," replied Mary. "Didn't you hear 
what the man said — that ' the afternoon's per- 
formance is now over, ladies and gentlemen,' and 
that there would be an entire change of pro- 
gramme to-night? " 

"No, I did not," I replied truthfully, "I nei- 
ther saw the man nor heard him." 

"I know you didn't enjoy it," remarked Mary, 
with a little sigh, "and I 'm sorry." 

"Enjoy it! " I exclaimed. "I haven't enjoyed 
an afternoon so much since — since you were a 
little girl." 

She fixed upon me a look that I could not 



THE CIRCUS COMES TO TOWN. Ill 

fathom. I knew not whether it had doubt or 
curiosity behind it. Presently the color deepened 
on her face, and she turned her head away to 
watch the crowd, which was clambering and clat- 
tering down the rattle-trap seats, and surging 
•toward the door. We remained in our places 
until the people on the rows below us had made it 
safe to descend. 

" Did I hear you say you enjoyed it, William ? " 
asked sister Jane. She waited for no reply. 
" Well, if you look that glum when you 're enjoy- 
ing yourself, I 'd like to see how you 'd act if you 
had to go to the gaUows." At which observation 
Mary BuUard laughed until the tears came into 
her eyes. 

"I didn't go so far as to say that I enjoyed the 
circus," I explained, "and yet I have had more 
real enjoyment to-day than I have had since one 
day in May ten years ago." 

"Well, if you 're as full of joy as your famine 
has been long, I wonder that something or other 
don't give way," remarked sister Jane, bluntly. 

Mary laughed at this so heartily that I was not 
surprised to see her face grow red. As we were 
descending the rows of seats, she asked if there 
was n't a picnic on that day in May ten years ago, 
and when I answered that there was, the expres- 
sion of her face grew so serious that I was truly 
sorry I had mentioned the matter at all. For on 
that May day ten years ago, she was a little girl, 
and she went to the picnic under my care and 



112 SISTUR JANE. 

protection. Yet her seriousness was only a pass- 
ing humor. In five minutes it had disappeared, 
and was succeeded by a fit of gayety that was 
delightful to witness; and surprising, too, for 
I had never seen her quite so buoyant since she 
was a romping girl. She made believe she would 
pirouette ia the public street; she chaffed sister 
Jane; she chaffed me; and carried herself so 
merrily withal, and so discreetly, too, that I, who 
knew she was the loveliest woman in the world, 
had never seen her so lovely before. Her laugh- 
ter was a delight to the ear, as her every move- 
ment was a delight to the eye; her eyes shone 
with an unwonted brilliance, and the tenderest 
rose-flush played on her cheeks. 

Once in the house, she began to play all sorts 
of kittenish pranks. She pulled sister Jane's ears 
and then kissed her. She tossed Keezes, much 
to that youngster's delight, and then cuddled him 
in her arms and cooed over him; she seized 
Tommy Tinkins by the forelegs, and made believe 
he was her partner in a dance ; she did a hundred 
things I had never seen her do since she was 
a child, each performance more charming than the 
last. Suddenly, while standing in the middle of 
the room, with her white hand raised in a pretty 
gesture, she became serious. The change was so 
unexpected that I involuntarily glanced through 
the windows, thinking that she had seen some 
one. But no one was in sight. 

"I'm too happy!" she cried. "It's a bad 



THE CIRCUS COMES TO TOWN. 113 

sign. When I am happy like this something is 
sure to happen." 

"Well, child, if something or other don't hap- 
pen, we '11 have a mighty quiet time of it the few 
years we 've got to live," remarked Sister Jane. 

But, though she was still smiling, and her eyes 
still shining with the joy she felt, she shook her 
beautiful head wisely. "It's a bad sign," she 
repeated; "I 've heard Free Betsey say so; and I 
remember that when I was coming home from 
Philadelphia, I was just as happy as I am now. 
But after I came home I was miserable." 

"Why, what in the world was the matter?" 
asked sister Jane. 

"Oh, everything was changed." 

"I don't see how that could be, child," persisted 
sister Jane. "What happened? " 

"Something," replied Mary, demurely, almost 
sadly; "but what it was, I wouldn't teU for the 
world." 

Down I came tumbling to the earth. I saw in 
an instant, as by a revelation, that she had been 
disappointed in some childish love affair. I felt 
myself shrunken and ugly, and older than ever. 
But I said nothing. I had intended to accompany 
her home, dusk having fallen, but now I held my 
peace. Something in my face must have told her 
that the lights had been blown out in my house of 
cards, for she came nearer. 

"You have given me a happy day," she said, — 
"both of you. You have put yourselves out for 



114 SfSTER JANE. 

me ; but I 'm not going to say ' thanky, ' I '11 just 
let you imagine how grateful I am. As for you, 
sir," she cried, with mock dignity, "having es- 
corted me to the circus, you must now patch out 
your gallantry, as Miss Jane would say, and 
escort me as far as my gate, if no farther." 

"I expect I '11 have to go with you," sister Jane 
remarked before I could answer a word. "When 
William once settles down for his nap, it 's a 
hard matter to get him to stir." 

This grim satire would have amused me at 
another time, but I did not relish it now. I made 
haste to place myself at Mary's disposal, surprised 
at so unusual a request, but happy to grant it. I 
took pains, however, not to rekindle the flaring 
lights that had illuminated my poor little house of 
cards all the afternoon. 

So we went together through the garden, Mary 
leaning on my arm as confidently as a child might 
lean on its father's. The pinks distilled their 
spices and the roses shed their perfume for my 
especial benefit that night, and the constellations 
sparkled with unwonted lustre. We said little, 
for there was nothing to say. At the gate she 
said good-night and went tripping up the steps. 

I had noticed that there was an unusual stir in 
the house. The servants were running from room 
to room with lighted candles, and as I walked 
toward home, there were loud cries of alarm. I 
stopped still in my tracks, the better to hear, 
when I saw Mary come running down the walk. 



THE CIRCUS COMES TO TOWN. 115 

I knew her movements, though I could not distin- 
guish her features. 

She saw me, and gave one frightened sob as 
she clutched me by the arm. 

"Oh, what shall I do?" she cried, though her 
voice was scarcely above a whisper. 

Trembling from a hundred vague fears, I drew 
her into my arms and held her so. I tried to 
speak, but my tongue refused its office. I could 
only hold her in my arms, and, with a shaking 
hand, stroke her hair as I used to do when she 
was a child. 

" Freddy is lost ! my poor little brother is lost ! 
He can be found nowhere. The whole town has 
been searched. Oh, to think that he is out in the 
dark alone, and crying for me! What shall I do? 
Where shall I go? Oh, my poor little brother! " 

Thus she moaned, with her head on my shoul- 
der, clinging to me and shivering. My first 
thought was of sister Jane, and to her we went, 
Mary seeming to have a revival of energy. I ran 
fast, but she ran faster, and by the time I reached 
the door, my sister had the poor girl pressed to 
her tender heart, and was getting such smaU in- 
formation as she could obtain. 

With sister Jane, to think was to act. Her 
bonnet lay on the bed where she had thrown it. 
She seized it, dashed it on her head recklessly, 
and, saying to Mary "come!" sped out of the 
house and along the garden walk. As for me, I 
was too much shocked to think, though all the 



116 SISTER JANE. 

trifles I have mentioned seized hold of my mind 
and stuck fast in my memory. I fell rather than 
sat on a chair, and remained there supinely. 

Mandy Satterlee had seized her baby, and held 
it tightly to her breast, as if by that means she 
would save it from the misfortune that had over- 
taken Mary's little brother. She now sat crying 
and sobbing as if her heart would break. 

"What is the matter, Mandy? Why excite 
yourself in that manner?" I inquired with some 
severity. Her grief seemed so entirely out of 
proportion to her interest in Freddy BuUard that 
it irritated me. 

"Oh, that child!" she sobbed. "That little 
boy!" 

"You make yourself ridiculous," I said. "Of 
course the child will be found. It is impossible 
that he should be lost." 

Mandy, turning her streaming eyes upon me, 
raised her right hand in a gesture that her earnest- 
ness made tragic. 

" That poor little boy will never be found in the 
round world! " she cried. "It 's proned into me." 
Her arm fell to her side, and she betook herself 
again to her grief. 



IX. 

A CHILD IS LOST. 

There was not mucli sleeping in the village 
that night. Each family seemed to take the loss 
home to itself. The men — old and young — 
organized themselves into searching parties, while 
the women flitted about the streets, going from 
house to house, seeking information, and finding 
new opportunities and occasions for gossip. The 
news seemed to spread over the community as by 
magic. The negroes were as active as anybody. 
Old Sol, Colonel Bullard's carriage driver, had 
stirred them up and was leading them. No nine 
o'clock bell rang for them that night. They went 
running hither and yonder and whither they 
pleased. The tramping of feet and the sound of 
men rimning and of women calling to each other 
in the dark came to my ears from the street, as 
I sat in the shadow of the honeysuckle. Though 
the air was chill, and the long wisps of clouds 
combed out by the wind gave token of dampness, 
the signs went unheeded so far as I was concerned. 

What struck me as most peculiar — ominous, 
indeed — was the tone in which the people passing 



118 SISTER JANE. 

by, especially the women, spoke of the lost child. 
"He was such a bright little boy." "So full of 
life and fun." "He would have been five years 
old next August." "It was so sudden — like a 
clap of thunder out of a clear sky." I remem- 
bered with a shiver that many and many a time 
I had heard people talk so of the dead. And 
then the prophecy of Mandy Satterlee crept back 
into my mind (from which I had ousted it), and 
remained there. 

After a while I heard sister Jane coming along 
the garden walk, and I joined her in the house, 
where Mandy Satterlee was still sitting, having 
now recovered from her hysterical burst of grief. 
There was no information in sister Jane's eyes, 
and so I forbore to question her. She called 
Mandy to a consultation in the kitchen as soon as 
Klibs could be tucked under cover, and they 
remained there some minutes. As they came 
back I heard sister Jane say solemnly : — 

"It 's the Providence of God, Mandy," and this 
terse remark struck deeper into my mind than 
many a sermon has done. Truly, it was the 
Providence of God. Whether the little fellow 
was dead or alive, or safe, to be returned to his 
friends, or fated to be lost to them until dooms- 
day, he was in the hands of the Almighty. 

In a measure quieted by these reflections, I 
seized my hat and walked along the street toward 
Colonel BuUard's home. A large crowd had 
assembled in the pillared portico, all friends and 



A CHILD IS LOST. 119 

all sympathetic. Midway down the flight of steps 
that led from the street to the door, I saw Mary 
Billiard standing. She held a lighted lanthorn in 
her hand, and seemed to be expecting some one to 
join her. 

"I was waiting for you," she said, as I went 
forward. She ran down the steps and for the 
fourth time that day laid her hand on my arm. 

"Waiting for me?" I asked, taking the lan- 
thorn. There was no surprise in either my voice 
or my mind. I made the inquiry to make sure 
that my ears had not deceived me. 

"Yes," she replied simply, and I was satisfied. 
It seemed the most natural thing in the world 
that she should be standing there waiting for me 
with the lanthorn in her hand. By some strange 
conceit or delusion of the mind, the incident was 
as old and as familiar to my experience the 
moment it happened as if it had occurred at the 
very threshold and beginning of my life, and 
found a thousand repetitions since. 

I turned to the impulse of her movements, and 
we went towards the public square. In a few 
moments I found that we were going in the direc- 
tion of the circus. For an instant — a bare instant 
— the idea that Mary was distraught by reason of 
her grief took possession of me; took possession 
of me and shook me as no thought ever did before 
or ever will again. Some symptom of it must have 
been conveyed to her, for she leaned more heavily 
on my arm. 



120 STSTER JANE. 

"What IS the matter?" she asked. 

For answer I lifted the lanthorn and looked 
into her face. She smiled ever so faintly and 
turned her head away. Her face was pale, in- 
deed, but, thank God, reason and intelligence 
shone above grief in her sad eyes. 

"Don't," she said. "I'll not bear inspection 
to-night." 

I made no reply, not even by way of apology, 
but the consternation that had seized me passed 
away as a noxious vapor before the morning sun. 

The night was not yet old, and the show under 
the dingy tent was still in full blast. The music 
of the band flung sweetly over the uproar made 
now and then by the motley crowd; and, as we 
drew near, the hundreds of lights that were set in 
a circle around the centre pole gave a brilliant 
effect that could be seen from the outside, where 
groups of whites and negroes stood, — the unfortu- 
nates who were too poor or too economical to pay 
the admission fee. Through these groups we went, 
inquiring if they had seen anything of the child. 

Business was over for the man who stood at 
the entrance of the tent, and he was now taking 
his ease in a chair, his feet flung over one of the 
ropes. He rose as we approached, and regarded 
us with a stare in which there was more amaze- 
ment than respect. I was for paying the fee, but 
Mary stopped me by a gesture. 

"I am himting for my little brother," she said. 
"He has been missing since this afternoon." 



A CHILD IS LOST. 121 

"Mercy! that's bad!" said the man, taking 
off his hat. He raised his hand, and some one 
who was lounging near came running forward. 
"Tell Dorkins to come here." 

The messenger darted away, and in half a 
minute Dorkins came rimning. "What is it, 
sir?" he asked. 

"Show this lady and gentleman through the 
tent. A child has been lost. What is the name, 
ma'am? BuHard! Not Colonel BuUard? Well, 
bless my stars ! Wait, Dorkins. You stay here. 
Come with me, ma'am." 

We went inside, and it seemed to me that the 
eyes of the whole multitude were fastened on us 
— Mary, with her beautiful hair falling about her 
shoulders, and I with the lanthorn, which looked 
dim indeed in all the glaring light. Major Fam- 
brough, who was a prominent politician and who 
was therefore always looking for an opportunity 
to make himself conspicuous, saw us at once, and 
was quick to jump to the conclusion that some- 
thing serious had occurred. 

"Unless you are out hunting for an honest 
man, Wornum, something is wrong," he said, 
touching me on the shoulder, and taking his hat 
off to Mary. "What is it?" 

"My little brother is lost," replied Mary. 

"Lost! Why, you amaze me!" cried the 
major. He tried hard to wear a look of concern, 
but the man's eyes fairly sparkled, and I soon 
saw the reason why. "We'U see what can be 



122 SISTES JANE. 

done," he said, and, walking into the middle of 
the ring, which was vacant just then, he raised 
his hand to command attention. 

"Ladies and gentlemen," he began, " a great 
calamity has befallen our little community." 
("Take him out!" some one cried. "Bring in 
the muel, and let him ride ! " yelled some one 
else.) "If my political opponents desire to ridi- 
cule me," the major went on, "they should wait 
for the proper time and opportunity. At present 
I desire to announce that the family of our re- 
spected fellow-townsman. Colonel Cephas BuUard, 
have suffered a severe affliction. Little Freddy 
BuUard is lost and cannot be found. If my 
opponents desire to make capital out of that, they 
are welcome to do so." 

There were sympathetic exclamations from the 
crowd, and a great many people began to leave 
their seats, but I felt that Major Fambrough had 
made a miserable spectacle of himself. My 
cheeks burned with the shame that he was a 
stranger to. 

The man who had constituted himself our guide 
laughed softly. "If we had that chap in the side- 
show," he said, "he 'd draw the crowds." 

He led us through the big tent into the dress- 
ing-room. The painted clown was sitting on a 
coil of rope reading a letter by the light of a 
candle he held in one hand. Other men were 
leaning about with heavy overcoats flung over 
their thin costumes. A woman, in short and fluffy 



A CHILD IS LOST. 123 

skirts, was trying to pin a rent in her bespangled 
waist, and she was the first to see us. She drew 
back with an exclamation, snatched a cloak from 
a stool, and held it before her. Through the 
hideous rouge on her face I could see her blushes. 
To her Mary went straight. 

"My little brother is lost," she said. "We 
are trying to find him." 

"Ah!" the rouged woman exclaimed, turning 
to the rest, "her little brother is lost." 

If I ever saw sympathy and pity depicted on 
the human countenance, I saw it on that woman's 
face — and on the faces of the others. Somehow 
they all seemed to remember that they had homes, 
and when we turned away, I noticed that the 
woman was crying, and that the clown, who, on 
a near view, had an old and a wizened look, had 
clenched his hand and crumpled his letter until it 
bore small semblance to a written page. 

Meanwhile the man who had come with us 
through the tent sent his men in every direction 
with orders to search for the child; but they all 
returned with the same story. Mary thanked 
them all, placed her hand on my arm again, and 
we went home, the man going a part of the way 
with us, and giving us the comfort of such hope 
as experience and self-possession can impart. At 
the last he promised that if he found the child the 
next day, or heard any tidings of it, he would 
mount a messenger on one of his best horses, and 
send us word. I joined my thanks to Mary's. 



124 SISTER JANE. 

"Don't thank me," he said to Mary. "I have 
a special reason for doing whatever I can — a 
very special reason." With that he laughed 
softly to himself, bowed, and was gone. At an- 
other time I would have regarded this as a very 
neat compliment to Mary, but now I felt that the 
stranger was under some obligation to Colonel 
BuUard. I suggested this to Mary, who replied 
with a sigh: "I shouldn't wonder. Father is 
always helping somebody, or doing good some- 
where." 

So we went back home unsuccessful, but Mary 
was better satisfied. She had done something 
that nobody else had thought of, and her mind 
was more at ease. I would have carried her to 
see sister Jane, but she insisted on going straight 
home. 

"Good-night," she said at the steps — the por- 
tico above was still crowded with people who were 
as heavily charged with curiosity as with sympa- 
thy — "good-night. This has been the happiest 
and most miserable day of my life ; and you have 
been so kind and thoughtful through it all." 

I murmured something in reply, watched her as 
she went slowly up the wide steps, and then turned 
and went home. There I found Mrs. Beshears, 
who, on account of the excitement in the village, 
had remained longer than usual. Sister Jane was 
sitting where she always sat, Mrs. Beshears was 
in her corner, Mandy Satterlee was rocking her 
baby, and Tommy Tinkins was stretched out on 



A CHILD IS LOST. 125 

the hearth-rug ; everything was in its usual place ; 
and yet I felt that there had been a change — a 
tremendous change. The idea was so strong in 
my mind that I paused on entering the room and 
looked around; and it was not until months after- 
wards that I discovered the change was in me and 
not in my surroundings. 

"For mercy's sake, William, what is the mat- 
ter?" said sister Jane. "You look as if you've 
been bewitched." I suppose something queer in 
my attitude or in my countenance must have 
attracted her attention, for she had a quick eye 
for such things. "Where 've you been gallantin' 
to?" 

I related as briefly as possible what has been 
set down here, not omitting a description of Major 
Fambrough's oration at the circus. This last 
seemed to be most interesting of all, for both 
sister Jane and Mrs. Beshears laughed until the 
tears came in their eyes. 

"It's a livin' wonder," remarked Mrs. Be- 
shears, "that that man ain't been elected to some 
big office too long ago to. talk about." 

"Why, yes," said sister Jane. "He's a big 
enough fool to go to the legislature. The lunatic 
asylum ain't so mighty far from the state house. 
They tell me you can stand on the roof of one and 
fling a rock on top of t'other." 

Then they fell to discussing the sensation of the 
day, which was the disappearance of little Freddy 
BuUard. My theory was that he would be found 



126 SISTER JANE. 

to-morrow, and it was a theory that lasted through 
many long days. For if the child had been taken 
up into the clouds, or if the earth had opened and 
swallowed him, his disappearance could not have 
been more complete or more mysterious. 

The search was continued for weeks, and was 
extended to the neighboring counties. All the 
wells were examined, all the ponds and streams 
for miles around were dragged, and the circus was 
followed and watched by two or three young men 
who had been paying Mary Bullard some atten- 
tion. But all to no purpose. The child was not 
to be found; and so, in the course of time, the 
village went about its business in the usual way, 
and the disappearance of Freddy Bullard became 
a story to frighten children with. 

Even the fortitude with which Colonel Bullard 
bore the burden of his grief ceased to be the sub- 
ject of remark. He seemed to accept it as his 
share of the misfortunes which come to the sons 
of men, and continued to go up and down as 
usual, winning the sympathy of the thoughtful 
and retaining the respect of all his fellow-citizens. 

The event wrought a change in Mary, though 
I knew not whether it was visible to any eyes but 
mine. I can only vaguely describe it by saying 
that she grew more womanly, more gracious, and 
more charming. To me she had always been 
charming and gracious, but now these qualities 
took (or seemed to take) new lustre from her grief. 
And when her grief had subsided into sorrow, as 



A CHILD IS LOST. 127 

it must do in the most faithful hearts as time goes 
on, her pensiveness, whether it shone through her 
smiles or took the shape of gentle melancholy, was 
as sweet and as touching as the notes of some old 
melody fluttering through the dusk from a far-off 
flute. 

I saw with much satisfaction that the half dozen 
young men who had striven hard to make them- 
selves agreeable to Mary gradually ceased their 
visits. They withdrew by degrees, and sullenly 
(or so it seemed to me), as if they were loath to 
acknowledge that they had failed to make an 
impression. My satisfaction at their evident dis- 
composure did not spring from envy. God knows, 
I never had that feeling. I should have been 
gratified if Mary's innocent heart had found ref- 
uge in the love of some man, standing high above 
his fellows — a man among men in gifts and posi- 
tion — a man entirely worthy of her. But where 
was such a man to be found ? 

The young men I have mentioned were clever 
enough, as cleverness goes. They were blessed 
with this world's goods; they belonged to the 
first families; and they were regarded as "good 
catches " by the mothers of marriageable daugh- 
ters in all the counties round about. So much so 
that I often shuddered at the thought that Mary 
(a mere child from my point of view) might be 
thoughtless enough to have her head turned by 
the flattery of their attentions. But I did her 
rank injustice in my thoughts. She was ever 



128 SfST£R JANE. 

above the small vanities that belong to youth and 
her sex, and the larger ones she never so much 
as dreamed of. Her motives were open as the 
day. She was the embodiment of truth and in- 
nocence, and neither vanity nor the pride that 
consumes had any part in her nature. She was 
as gracious to the humblest as she was to the 
highest. Her consideration could skim the sur- 
face of the earth as easily as it could soar above 
the heights. 

As I have said, life in the village soon dropped 
into the old uneventful channels. It seemed that 
nothing could reach the stature of an event after 
the episode I have tried to describe. All things 
dwindled and shrunk by comparison. And yet 
the doubt besets me that I have failed to picture 
forth the shock that was given to the whole com- 
munity. Looking back over these pages the affair 
seems tame and spiritless. 

Let me say here, while the opportunity is ripe, 
that this and other episodes to be told of are not 
to be judged by the narrative alone. There are 
gaps and lapses the reader must fill out for him- 
self. The knack of narration belongs to the 
gifted few, who need neither art nor practice to 
fit them for the work. With me, all is lacking. 
When the impressive moment arrives the apt and 
trenchant word eludes me. The sparkling phrase, 
the vivid grouping, and the illumination that 
flashes the whole scene upon the mind, are want- 



A CHILD IS LOST. 129 

ing. I have tried to give the crude outline only, 
leaving the imagination of the reader to inject 
into it the elements necessary to impart a pleasure 
and a satisfaction that my poor gifts could never 
convey. 



FEEE BETSEY RUNS THE CARDS. 

The name of Free Betsey has been mentioned 
somewhere in the preceding pages. I was better 
acquainted with her reputation than with her per- 
sonality, but I knew her when I saw her, as, in- 
deed, everybody in this section did. She struck 
me as a queer mixture of humility, audacity, and 
cunning. She told fortunes by cards, carrying a 
greasy pack with her for that purpose, and she 
sold ginger-cakes on public days and during court- 
week, eking out in this way a living that served 
her purposes well enough. 

Free Betsey and I came to a closer acquaintance 
in a very curious way. During the early winter 
it was my habit to take long walks in the woods, 
frequently going far beyond the town branch — 
a small stream that was a mile from the court- 
house. Happily, I never found it necessary to 
walk in the public highway. Through the big 
woods and fields in all directions numerous by- 
paths ran — paths that had been made first by the 
Indians and wild beasts and were afterwards fre- 
quented by the negroes and cattle. They wound 
about, crossing one another, and frequently formed 
a labyrinth interesting to work out. 



FREE BETSEY RUNS TEE CARDS. 131 

On one occasion, while following one of these 
paths that led me in a direction I had never trav- 
eled before, I suddenly saw Free Betsey walking 
ahead of me. The woods were not thick, and the 
path was straight and open, so much so, that the 
sudden appearance of Free Betsey where I had 
seen no one a moment before set me to wondering. 
Cover and hide as we will, our learning and cul- 
ture have not struck deep enough to remove the 
dregs of superstition. These seem to have settled 
at the very bottom of our natures, as it were, and 
resist all the processes of enlightenment; so that 
whatever comes upon us refusing to submit to plau- 
sible explanation is like to send a cold chill along 
the marrow of the spine. 

I had some such feeling as that when Free 
Betsey took shape in the path before me, congeal- 
ing (as it seemed) out of the vapors of the forest. 
I knew it was Free Betsey by her antics. She 
bowed and curtsied to imaginary people as she 
went along, such was her seeming humility. It 
was "Howdy, mars'er," — "howdy, missis," — 
howdy, trees, — howdy, ground, — howdy, sky, 
— howdy, everybody that lives, — and howdy 
everything that creeps, or crawls or exists — bow- 
ing here, bowing there, to the left and to the 
right, and dropping low curtsies to all. A more 
uncanny figure it would have been hard to find. 
I could hear her talking to herself as she bowed 
and waved her hands, for though I had slackened 
my pace to avoid overtaking her, and she seemed 



132 . SISTER JANE. 

to be going as rapidly as ever, I drew nearer 
and nearer. Not content with her bowing and 
curtsying, she broke into a song with this queer 
refrain : — 

" Man come to my house — it's howdy, oh, howdy ! 
Man come to my house — oh, it's howdy, howdy do ! " 

This over, she shook her head and laughed 
shrilly, and then suddenly sat squat on the ground, 
and fell to making marks in the path with her 
forefinger. 

"Ah-yi! I been waitin' fer you, Mars'er 
Willyum — waitin' long time. Squinch-owl say 
' he comin' ' — he no come. Whip'will say ' he 
comin' ' — he no come. Blue jay say, 'day.' 
day! ' — he come." 

"Waiting for me!" I exclaimed, looking at 
her in some astonishment. Age had taken the 
plumpness from her face, but her eyes shone like 
those of some wild animal. 

"Yasser — yasser! " she cried, rising nimbly to 
her feet. "Waitin' long time, an' you come. 
Waitin' in de woods, an' you come. My house 
yander — on de hill dere." She walked along the 
path and I followed. "What you done wid my 
young mistis?" she inquired. 

"Your young mistress?" 

"Eh-heh ! De gal what you pull fum de snow. 
Whar she been gone dis long time? I look fer 
see her — I no see her." 

"Do you mean Mandy Satterlee?" I inquired. 

"Eh-heh! Yasser! Dat ve'y gal. She my 



FREE BETSEY KIJNS THE CARDS. 133 

young mistiss. Hit come like dis: I b'long'ded 
to her ma's pa, an' he sot me free: yasser, he gi' 
me my papers. I ain't no Myrick nigger; no, 
suh! My ole man, he 's a Myrick nigger, but dat 
ain't no bindin' reason fer me ter be a Myrick 
nigger. No, suh! My mars'er ain't set back an 
hire his niggers out to Tom, Dick, an' Harry. 
He got up fo' day wid um, an' worked um. Dey 
had ter arn der livin', but dey got it atter dey 
arned it. I'm a Bowden nigger, myse'f. Ole 
Gabe Bowden wuz my mars'er, an' ole Gabe 
Bowden sot me free, an ole Gabe Bowden wuz de 
grandaddy er Mandy Satterlee, an' I bless God 
eve'y day an' eve'y night dat ole Gabe Bowden 
done dead an' gone ter heav'm whar he b'longded 
at. Dead — dead ! Yasser — dead ! " 

While she was pouring forth this volume of 
speech, she was walking along in the path ahead 
of me, waving her arms and shaking her head, 
and occasionally looking around to see whether I 
was following. I remembered, of course, that 
Gabe Bowden — the name was spelt Bowdoin on 
the records of the court — was Mandy Satterlee 's 
grandfather, that his daughter had eloped with 
Satterlee, and that her disobedience in this matter 
gave him a blow from which he never fully recov- 
ered. He died not more than a year after his 
disappointment, and his daughter died the year 
following, having in the meantime given birth to 
a son and daughter. The family seemed to be 
pursued by a storm of disasters. 



134 SISTUR JANE. 

In a few moments we came to Free Betsey's 
house, which was built on land' owned by Mrs. 
Beshears and her sisters. The woman asked me 
in, and placed a chair for me. It was a stout log 
cabin, of one room, and everything about it was 
neat as a pin. Even the hearth, which would 
otherwise have presented an unseemly appear- 
ance (being made of rough stones) was glossed 
and veneered by a coat of red clay, smoothly laid 
on. The cooking-things were clean, and the tin 
cups and pans shone as if they had been freshly 
burnished. A white counterpane was spread over 
the bed, and the valances were frilled and fluted 
quite in the style. I wondered at this, for there 
was nothing in Free Betsey's appearance to indi- 
cate a love of order and neatness. She must have 
followed my thoughts, for she said, as she seated 
herself on the door-sill : — 

"Don't git sheer 'd 'bout ole Betsey, suh. I 
wuz raise in de white folks' house. Dat ar coun- 
terpane dar older dan what you is — dat ar skillet 
older dan SaUy Beshears — dat ar trivet was 
brimg fum Ferginny 'fo' de white folks an' de 
tories fell out an' fit. Ne'r min' 'bout dat. 
"Whar Mandy Satterlee? Whar my young mis- 
tissat?" 

"At our house," I replied. 

"What she doin' dar?" 

"Well, she is doing what she wants to do — 
cooking and helping around." 

"Ah-hah! " cried Free Betsey. "I know'd it. 



FREE BETSEY BUNS TEE CARDS. 135 

She's dar playin' de nigger! Oh, dey can't fool 
me — dey des can't do it! She's dar playin' de 
nigger! Why n't she go 'way fum dar? What 
she want ter stay dar playin' de nigger fer?" 

Age and the pretense of hvunility gave Free 
Betsey privileges which she was in the habit of 
pushing to their utmost limit. So I replied by 
asking a question : — 

"Where should she go? " 

"She kin come yer — right yer in dis ve'y 
house ! " exclaimed Free Betsey, striking the floor 
with her clenched fist. " What gwine ter hender 
her? Oh, you nee'n'ter to be lookin' 'roun'," she 
went on, catching the glance of my eye. "Dat 
ar bed dar ain't never been slep' on by no white 
folks, much less a nigger. Dat ar counterpin', 
an' dat quilt, an' dem ar sheets ain' never kiver'd 
no livin' human 'ceptin' ole Gabe Bowden. Look 
at dis ! " She rose, went to the bed, lifted a side 
of the valance, and exposed to view a trundle bed. 
"Dat whar I sleep at. What I keep dis house 
clean fer? Fer me? Naw! What I keep dat 
bed fer ? Fer me ? Naw ! What I keep fire on 
deha'thfer? Fer me? Bless God, naw! What 
I want wid um? What I gwine do wid um? " 

Gradually, as her meaning, which had been 
doubtful at first, dawned on me slowly, and yet 
surely, admiration for the negro crept into my 
mind and remained there. 

"Tell me dat," she went on, growing more 
earnest. " What I gwine do wid all dis ? What 



136 SISTER JANE. 

I gwine do wid it? How come Mandy Satterlee 
don't stop playin' nigger at yo' house, an' come 
ter dis house, whar dey 's a nigger waitin' fer her 
— a nigger, an' a monstus good un, ef I does say 
itmyse'f? Now tell me dat! Ain't I gone an' 
nuss'd her when she wuz a baby, an' hilt her in 
my arms, an' sot dar huggin' her whiles ol' Sat- 
terlee wuz cussin' an' 'busin' me 'cause I wuz a 
free nigger? Sf dey ever wuz a hdlian he wuz 
one!" she cried in a burst of passion. "Ef 
you '11 put yo' pillow over yo' head at night des' 
fo' you go ter sleep an' when eve'ything is still, 
you kin hear 'im holler in Torment. I does dat 
away eve'y night, an' it makes me laugh when I 
hear ole Satterlee holler in Torment." 

Free Betsey paused to take breath, tore a frag- 
ment of bark from one of the pine logs and began 
to pick it to pieces. Presently, with a cry of dis- 
gust and hatred, she flung it from her. 

"Satterlee!" she breathed the name with a 
hiss. "Dey 's pizen in de blood! Look at Mandy 
Satterlee ! Look what de pizen has brung her to ! 
Playin' nigger ! Ef dey 's any salvation in dis worl' 
fer her, de Bowden blood '11 save her. I dunner 
how it gwine ter be when she die. Ef she 's got 
one drap mo' er de Satterlee blood dan what she 's 
got er de Bowden blood, de angels can't save her." 

Free Betsey paused again, and regarded me so 
earnestly that I felt uncomfortable. 

"How do she do? Do she cry an' take on? 
Do she do like her sperret done broke? " 



FREE BETSEY RUNS THE CARDS. 137 

"Yes, she is very unhappy," I replied. 

"Well, I thank my God fer dat much! " cried 
Free Betsey, lifting her hands high over her head. 
" Dat 's de Bowden blood. Oh, tell her ter cry 
— cry — cry! An' den, when cry in' don't do 
her no good, tell her dat her ol' nigger is waitin' 
fer her out yer in de woods." 

"Why don't you come to see her?" I sug- 
gested, struck by her devotion. "No doubt she 
would be glad to see you." 

"Me come dar?" She lowered her voice, and 
a pleased expression crept into her face. " God 
knows, I been layin' off ter come, suh, but I 'm 
skeer'd. I ain't nothin' 't all but a ole no-count 
free nigger, an' I been skeer'd dat ef I come dar 
an' ax fer my young mistiss 'twould make you all 
mo' 'spicious er de gal dan what you is." 

I followed Free Betsey's thought rather than her 
words, and my admiration for her grew steadily. 

"I use ter know Miss Jane," she went on, "an' 
she '11 fly up an' flew at you at de drappin' uv a 
hat an' drap it herse'f . Ef I come I 'm comin' 
kaze you ax me, an' not kaze Mandy Satterlee 
want ter see me. She may not want ter see me, 
an' I don't speck she do, but dat ain't needer yer 
ner dar; ef I know'd Miss Jane want gwine ter 
fly up an' flew'd at me, I 'd come. I sho would 
— ^not in de day time, but in de dark er de 
moon." 

"You may come any time," said I. 

Free Betsey laughed gleefully. "Well, suh, 



138 SISTER JANE. 

I 'm mos' tickled ter death ter hear you talk dat 
away. An' ef dat's de case, I 'U hatter tell yo' 
fortune." She rose from the door sill, went to 
a shelf on which was perched a small, square 
mirror, and picked up a pack of playing cards. 

"Nonsense!" I protested. "You don't think 
I believe in that sort of stuff?" 

"Eh-eh!" cried Free Betsey. "Don't make 
no diffunce 'bout b'lievin' er not b'lievin'. Dat 
don't hurt de trufe. It mostly in giner'Uy hurt 
dem what don't b'lieve de trufe." Crude as it 
was, this was sound reasoning, but it bore no rela- 
tion to fortune-telling, and so I informed Free 
Betsey. 

"Ef dat's de case," she replied, "'t ain't gwine 
ter hurt you no how; an' ef 'tis de trufe maybe 
it 's lots purtier dan what you specktin' it ter be." 
With that she sat on the door-sill again, smoothed 
her lap out, and began to shuffle the cards, show- 
ing a dexterity in the performance that I have 
never seen surpassed. Suddenly she dropped the 
pack in her lap, and turned to me. 

"Who dat you had wid you at de circus dat 
time? " she asked. 

The question was so unexpected, and was put 
so plumply that I was taken aback. I suppose 
I must have blushed, for Free Betsey threw her- 
self on the floor in a paroxysm of laughter, whether 
real or feigned I had no means of knowing. 

"Oh, you ain't done forgot de name," she 
cried. "I know by my nose an' my two big toes." 



FREE BETSEY RUNS THE CARDS. 139 

"I was with my sister and Miss Mary BuUard," 
I remarked after a while with a dignity befitting 
the occasion. 

"De reason I ast," Free Betsey explained, 
"was dat I run de kyards 'bout you de day de 
circus wuz a callywhoopin' aroun', an' dey runded 
mighty quare. Dey make me open my eyes — 
wide! I say ' Heyo, how come dis? ' an' ' Heyo, 
how come dat ? ' But dey wuz all mixt up wid 
sump'n er nudder, I dunner what. But wait! 
I '11 see how dey talk now." 

She shuffled the cards again, then divided them 
into four equal parts, placing each part to itself, 
until she came to the fourth. This she retained 
in her hands, running the cards rapidly through 
her fingers, and studying the combinations that 
presented themselves. This she did a half dozen 
times. At last she laughed aloud, and ex- 
claimed: — 

"Man, dis beats all! 'T ain't much better dan 
't wuz de day er de circus. Yer de gal — dark 
complected — same gal — -trouble all roun' 'er, 
but not de big trouble dat dey wuz — yer she is, 
gwine up an' down — an' dar's de trouble." 

She laid the cards in her lap and took the next 
division, passing the pieces of painted pasteboard 
so nimbly between her fingers, one by one, that 
they seemed to move of their own will and voli- 
tion. 

"Name er de Lord!" she muttered. "What 
de matter wid deze kyards? De trouble ain't no 



140 SISTER JANE. 

big trouble — dey ain't no sickness — dey ain't 
no journeys — dey ain't nobody makin' no trouble 

— what de matter?" She put the cards down 
and picked up the next division. "Folks all 
gwine 'long 'tendin' ter der own business — no 
ups an' downs — no nothin'." She took the 
fourth and last division in her hands and went 
through the same formality of skimming them 
through her fingers. "Ah-yi!" she exclaimed. 
"Yer de light complected man! what he doin' 
'way off yer by his own lone se'f ? Mo' trouble 

— all er he own makin'. What de matter wid 
'im? " She took the first division and added it 
to the one she held in her hands. "Look at um! 
De dark-complected gal gwine up an' down 
makin' trouble fer 'er own se'f — de light-com- 
plected man settin' still makin' trouble fer he 
own se'f. Dat what de kyards say," she went 
on, looking hard at me, " an' de kyards know what 
dey talkin' 'bout. Dat 's your fortune, Mars'er 
Willyum Wornum, an' I 'm mighty glad 't ain't 
no wuss; I 'm glad fum de bottom er my heart." 

"It's not much of a fortune," I remarked, 
dryly. "But since you are so apt at such things, 
why don't you tell of the little boy that was lost 

— Freddy BuUard?" 

"Don't you know 'dout any tellin'?" she 
asked, with some eagerness. 

"I know he is lost, certainly," I replied; "we 
all know that." 

"IsdataU?" 



FREE BETSEY RUNS THE CARDS. 141 

"It is all anybody knows," I said. 

"Ain't Miss Jane done tol' you?" 

"She knows no more than I do." 

" Well, ef dat don't beat all ! Ain't Miss Jane 
tol' you, sho nuff ? " 

I was nettled more by the tone of Free Betsey 
than by her words, which had no meaning for me. 
"Of course she hasn't told me anything more 
than everybody knows," I replied, with some 
heat. 

"Well den, ef she ain't done tol' you, I ain't 
gwine tell you, kaze she got some good reason. 
'T ain't kaze she dunno. Man, suh! dey can't 
fool Sally Beshears an' dey can't fool Free Bet- 
sey." 

"Why, you must be crazy," I exclaimed, petu- 
lantly. 

"Dat des what de matter," she said, in a whis- 
per. "Or Free Betsey ain't only gone crazy; 
she 'uz bornded crazy. Dat 's it — dat 's it ! " 

Of course Free Betsey, with characteristic cun- 
ning, was trying to find out what I knew (though, 
indeed, I knew nothing) of the fate of Freddy 
BuUard, so as to weave it into a rigmarole of her 
own when she came to "run " the cards. 

"If you can tell fortunes with your cards," said 
I, "you can surely tell me something of Freddy 
BuUard." 

"Not wid de kyards," she replied. "I got 
sump'n better 'n kyards." 

With that she went to a chest that stood in one 



142 8ISTEB JANE. 

corner of the room — a very substantial looking 
chest it was, too — and drew from its depths a 
crystal of peculiar formation, such as are some- 
times found on the hills of middle Georgia. It 
was a very large and beautiful stone, weighing, 
perhaps, a pound. The surface was clear, but in 
its depths were flecks and splotches of white, hav- 
ing the appearance of a milky vapor. I took it 
in my hands and examined it curiously, turning 
it about, and weighing it in my palm. It was as 
fine a specimen of the kind as I ever saw, and I 
wondered to what use Free Betsey would put it. 
My curiosity was soon satisfied. She took the 
stone and closed both hands over it, and held it to 
her face, and breathed on it her warm breath. 
Then she rubbed it briskly on her apron and held 
it to the light. It may have been my imagina- 
tion, or it may have been the angle at which my 
eyes fell on the stone, but it seemed to me that 
the vaporous white flecks were both thinner and 
fewer in number. But the appearance of the 
stone did not seem to satisfy Free Betsey. She 
warmed it again by breathing upon it, and rubbed 
it briskly with her apron. 

"It mighty cloudy in dar," she exclaimed. 

She breathed on it, and rubbed it the third 
time, and held it up to the light. This time I 
was sure that some change had taken place. The 
stone seemed to be dazzlingly clear, not transpar- 
ent, but teeming with pale sparks of light. This, 
after all, may have been due to a trick of hand- 



FREE BETSEY RUNS THE CARDS. 143 

ling, but, if so, the trick was cleverly done. Free 
Betsey gazed steadfastly into the clear depths of 
the stone, mumbling something in an undertone. 
Presently she said : — 

"A long road an' a mighty rough un. Man 
got de chiF by de han'. Sometimes dey er ridin' 
an' sometimes dey er walkin'. Sometimes de man 
tote de chil', sometimes he make 'im walk. Some- 
times dey set down on de side de road to res'." 

Free Betsey spoke slowly and hesitatingly as 
if she found difficulty in making head or tail of 
the tangle she found in the mysterious depths of 
the stone. 

"Now dey er walkin' — walk, walk, walk, — 
dodgin' in de woods when somebody come by. 
Trudge, trudge; chil' a-cryin', man a-cussin'. 
Miles 'pon top er miles — cross big rivers an' 
little uns — up hill an' downhill — 'cross moun- 
tains yit — way off yander de Lord knows whar. 
Bimeby dey come to er place whar some waggoners 
campin'. I see smoke, I see fire, I see de tops er 
de wagons — one, two — dozen wagons. Man an' 
chil' set down. Chil' mighty nigh dead he so 
hungy an' tired. Man slap de chil' fer to 'im 
hoi' up he head. So den! Man jine wid de 
wagons. Travel an' travel wid um. Bimeby set 
de chil' down in de road an' go off an' lef 'im. 
Man gone ! — he done gone ! Man wid black 
beard come 'long take de chil' in he arms an' 
much 'im, an' den he gi' 'im sump'n t' eat. 
Man " — she paused, turned the stone over in her 



144 SISTER JANE. 

Lands. "Done gone," she said, with a sigh. 
"De clouds done come back." 

I took the stone in my hand again, but the 
white vaporous flecks (if they had ever disap- 
peared) had now come back, thicker, it seemed to 
me, than ever. Turn the stone as I would, it 
refused to show the lustre that it gave forth in 
Free Betsey's hand. This fact struck me, but it 
gave me no reason to place any confidence in her 
power to read the future. Yet it gave me a 
strong sense of the impression that her apparent 
earnestness and sincerity might make on weaker 
minds. I gave her a sevenpence piece, and left 
her; but before I had got out of hearing, she 
hollered at me this prophecy : — 

"You'll see what I tol' you, an' you'll know 
mo'n dat 'fo' you git many year older." 



XI. 

TWO OLD FRIENDS AND ANOTHER. 

It has been said that time moves more slowly 
in a village than elsewhere; but when a man is 
nearing his climacteric (and mine I reckoned to be 
the age of forty) it moves all too fast for him, no 
matter where Providence has stationed him. 
There were moments when I could have wished to 
stop the hands on the dial, or to do with the sea- 
sons what Joshua did with the sun — bid them to 
stand still. But even if the age of miracles was 
not past, as many claim and believe, it were a 
vain and an idle thought for an obscure country 
lawyer to hope to grow younger as the years went 
by or to stay the hands of time. Nor did I repine 
that this was so. Providence has given us the 
knack of accommodating ourselves to circum- 
stances, and this gift is in the nature of a fortune. 
I was a part of the vast procession, and, while I 
had my fancies, I was not averse from growing old 
with the rest. In this business I knew that I had 
the world, the planets, and the myriad stars for my 
companions, and we were all journeying along 
together fulfilling the same divine order. 



146 SISTES JANE. 

I felt that the burden of age, rightly carried, 
was far more precious than the vapors of youth. 
The happiness of youth is according to nature; 
the rarer happiness of age is according to philoso- 
phy. Youth has no other knowledge than to seek 
its pleasure; but where experience can extract 
content and happiness from life, that is a gift 
above nature. And I felt that I had it. 

Yet I could have my fancies, too, and they did 
me no harm. I could fancy, when I saw Mary 
Bullard (and I saw her every day), how it might 
be if I were younger ; and if I dropped a sigh at 
such times, my discontent was as fleeting and as 
momentary as a gust of summer wind. I had but 
to turn in my chair to find diversion. I had but 
to pass into the street to find an ample supply of 
the humor that life provides for those who have 
eyes to see and ears to hear. 

It was on one of these occasions when I had 
gone into the street to rid myself of fancies, 
which, though entirely harmless, were unprofit- 
able, that I chanced to meet with two old friends 
and acquaintances (Grandsir Johnny Eoach and 
Uncle Jimmy Cosby), men who had known my 
father and who had been his warm friends. 
Grandsir Roach and Uncle Jimmy Cosby lived 
together a few miles from the village, and had 
been neighbors of the Satterlees. They were 
sitting on the steps of the court-house, talking to- 
gether, and I walked across the public square to 
shake hands with them for the sake of old times. 



TWO OLD FRIENDS AND ANOTHER. 147 

The two old men were well-to-do. They owned 
land and negroes, horses and carriages; but back 
of their prosperity were the experience of the 
pioneer and the spirit of true democracy. As 
they were, so were their neighbors, for in this 
section the aristocracy of caste could hardly find 
a spot of ground on which to plant its dainty feet. 
The essence of manhood is character, and the sub- 
stance of character is integrity; and integrity 
went farther than wealth among this people. The 
two old men had the independence that cares little 
for appearances, and the spirit of economy that 
adapts itself to circumstances. I could see that 
they had taken their feet in their hands (as the 
saying is) and walked to the village, as they had 
done many times before. They seemed to have 
some joke between them, for they were chuckling 
and nudging each other at a great rate. They 
were as glad to see me as I was to see them, and 
I was very soon let into the matter of the joke 
that had convulsed them. 

Grandsir Johnny Roach had started to the vil- 
lage with the understanding that his comrade and 
neighbor, Uncle Jimmy Cosby, would follow in 
a few moments and overtake him. Once under 
way, Grandsir Johnny Koach, with the harmless 
conceit of age, made up his mind to surprise Uncle 
Jimmy Cosby by pushing forward as rapidly as 
his legs would allow him. He was vigorous for 
all his seventy-odd years, and though the rheuma- 
tism had left him with what he called a "game 



148 SISTER JANE. 

knee," he could manage to move with considerable 
celerity. The result was that Uncle Jimmy Cosby 
failed to overtake him until he had reached the 
public square. Though both were fagged out 
with the unusual exertion, they regarded it as a 
good joke, and seemed to enjoy it immensely. 

"He cotch up wi' me, William, right in the 
aidge of town, an' I lay he hain't strained hisself, 
nother. Well, well! It's nothin' to boast on, 
Brother Cosby. I reckon I frittered away my 
wind a-cuttin' up capers in my young days, an' 
now I 'm a-payin' of the fiddler. Ther 's a turri- 
ble crick in my knee-jint, an' a tremblin' in my 
hams if I but overdo my gait." 

"Oh, yes! I cotch up wi' 'im, William," 
remarked Uncle Jimmy Cosby, complacently, 
"but I laid off to overtake 'im at the Baptizin' 
Creek. I 've had to walk — yes, sir! — I 've had 
to walk as I hain't walked these many long years. 
I put out ten minnits arter you left, Brother 
Roach, an' I pulled right along wi'out lookin' 
uther to the right or uther to the left. I allowed 
maybe you was in some big hurry er 'nother." 

Grand sir Johnny Roach smiled pleasantly over 
this neighborly tribute to his powers of endurance. 

"No, no. Brother Cosby! " he protested; "I 'm 
lots too old to be in any hurry; I thess taken my 
time — ^a-shufdin' 'long an' a-studyin', an' a-study- 
in' an' a-shufflin' 'long — thinkin' eve'y blessed 
minnit that you 'd walk up behin' me an' slap me 
on the back." 



TWO OLD FRIENDS AND ANOTHER. 149 

"I allowed you had somethin' er 'nother on your 
min', Brother Roach," Uncle Jimmy Cosby as- 
sented, "bekaze I hoUa'd at you from the top of 
yan hill, but you kep' a-polin'." 

" I 'm like a steer. Brother Cosby. When he 
begins to git warm in the flanks he draps his head 
an' makes fer shade an' water." 

"Well, we 're both here, Brother Roach," said 
Uncle Jimmy Cosby. "We're both here, an' 
likewise William Wornum — an' what more can 
you ax than that? " 

"Nothin'," replied Grandsir Johnny Roach, 
with something like a sigh — "nothin' but a 
rockin'-cheer an' a jug of fresh buttermilk. Yit 
I lay we '11 be obleege to put up wi' a stump an' 
a tussock." 

The two old men sat silent for a while, appar- 
ently lost in thought. It was evident that my old 
friends had grave affairs to deal with. Finally 
Uncle Jimmy Cosby spoke : — 

"The days is shortenin' up. We 've come from 
home an' it hain't taken us long, but before 
we 've been an' gone an' transacter'd a speck o' 
what little business we had, here 't is mighty nigh 
twelve o'clock." 

Grandsir Johnny Roach cast a glance upward 
at the sun. It was swift and casual, but it was 
the glance of an expert. "No, Brother Cosby, 
you 're wrong. My two eyes tell me it 's a leetle 
better 'n half arter ten. It ain't more 'n a quarter 
to eleven, if it 's as much." 



150 SISTER JANE. 

"Maybe so, Brother Eoach; maybe so; I'll 
not dispute you. One hour more or less Hain't 
wutb wranglin' over, speshually on a Sat 'day. 
One hour or three, we 've got the balance of the 
day before us." 

"That's so, Brother Cosby; that's so. If we 
was on a frolic now, an' the fiddle was a-gwine, 
we 'd find two hours ample time for to git happy 
in — ample time." 

At that moment I heard some one singing on 
the other side of the public square. The two 
old men also heard it, and paused in their aimless 
conversation to listen. The singer appeared to 
be coming in the direction of the court-house, but 
was out of sight on the other side. 

"Can you make him out. Brother Cosby?" 
Grandsir Eoach asked. 

"That I can, Brother Roach ; that I can. It's 
that half-wit, Jincy Meadows. It 's a God-send 
that he hain't got sense enough to be as mean as 
his daddy. Larkin loved money better 'n he did 
his childern, an' now here 's his son a-troUopin' 
about from post to pillar, an' no manner account. 
I laugh at 'im sometimes, but it makes me sorry 
for to see sech a fool." 

"Don't laugh at 'im. Brother Cosby; don't. 
You know what the sayin' is — ' Don't squeal at 
a sow; don't blate at a cow; don't kick at a mule; 
don't laugh at a fool.'" 

"Why, you laugh at 'im yourself, Brother 
Eoach." 



TWO OLD FSIEND8 AND ANOTHER. 151 

" Not me, Brother Cosby, not me ! I laugh wi' 
'im, but that 's bekaze I can't he'p myse'f, he 's 
so nimble wi' his tongue. Lord 'a' mercy! 
I 've seed lots bigger fools in my day an' time 
than that same Jincy Meadows." 

Jincy Meadows came around the corner of the 
court-house singing blithely. He was a lightly- 
built young fellow, apparently about twenty-five, 
quick in his movements and rather prepossessing 
in his appearance — indeed, not far from hand- 
some. I had frequently had occasion to laugh at 
his flippancies, for they often went deeper than the 
common apprehension cared to foUow. Though 
he bore the reputation of a half-wit, which is a 
genteel name for a harmless lunatic, he struck me 
as a young man of uncommon parts. As he came 
around the corner of the court-house, he sang : — 

" ' Oh,' said the peckerwood, settin' on the fence, 
' Once I courted a comely wench, 
But she proved fickle and from me fled, 
And ever sence my head 's heen red.' " 

He paused as he came upon our little group, 
bowed swiftly to me, and then turned to the two 
old men, his arms akimbo, and a comical expres- 
sion of astonishment on his face. 

"Why, the great Jiminy Craminy!" he cried, 
"What is this? The state legislator in session, 
and nobody to do the wind work! This fetches 
my dream true. I dreampt last night I was 
elected, an' 'stead of callin' on me to speak, they 
called on me to treat." 



152 SISTER JANE. 

"We'll not ax you that, Jincy," Grandsir 
Roach responded with as much gravity as was his 
to command. 

"Well, that spiles the dream, then," remarked 
Jincy, "because I up'd and told the boys that a 
member of the legislatur, and likewise a Son of 
Temperance, had to be mighty keerful about the 
platform he stood on. But we 're all here, now, 
and what a team we make ! Johncy, Jimpsy, and 
Jincy — wisdom, experience, and prudence ! I 
name these names because no kind of weather will 
sp'ile 'em." 

Uncle Jimmy Cosby nudged Grandsir Roach with 
his elbow. "Jest lis'n how that boy runs on! " 

"Wait! hold on!" exclaimed Jincy, holding 
up his forefinger warningly. "Be right still! 
Let 's jine hands and stand in a ring. Catch hold 
of hands, Johncy and Jimpsy; now take Jincy 's. 
That 's it; that 's the idee. Steady now! Johncy, 
you must blink; Jimpsy, you must wink; and 
Jincy '11 stand here and think. Now, then, all 
make a wish — one, two, three ! — and there you 
are!" 

Jincy dropped the hands of the two old men, 
who had unhesitatingly placed theirs in his, 
stepped back, leaped into the air, and cut what is 
called "the pigeon wing" with indescribable ease 
and grace. 

"Go 'way, Jincy; go 'way! You're a plum 
sight; go 'way!" cried Grandsir Roach, giving 
the young man a playful punch with his cane. 



TWO OLD FRIENDS AND ANOTHER. 153 

Jincy Meadows made a comical gesture of 
despair. "There now!" he exclaimed. "You 
can't get your wish; you teched me whilst the 
spell was on me. But I know what your wish 
was, Johncy — and yours, Jimpsy." 

The old men chuckled, but appeared to have no 
desire to challenge Jincy's occult powers. 

"What are you doin' for a livin', Jincy?" 
asked Uncle Jimmy Cosby. 

"Bridging the Oconee, Jimpsy. Have n't you 
heard about it? Why, it 's the talk of the whole 
county. I had the bridge finished last Saturday, 
but it had to be tore down." 

"Tore down! " exclaimed Uncle Jimmy Cosby. 
"What for, I 'd like to know? " There was gen- 
uine interest in the tone of his voice. 

Jincy looked around carefully, as if to see that 
no one outside our little group would overhear 
him. "Don't tell anybody," he said, in a loud 
whisper. "I found a knot hole in one of the 
stringers." 

Grandsir Roach shook his head and sighed. 
Uncle Jimmy Cosby 's countenance fell. "Well, 
well, well!" said one, and "WeU, well, well!" 
echoed the other. 

I was so charmed with this unique method of 
throwing an insurmountable barrier across the 
path of inquisitiveness, that I resolved to test the 
young man's ability farther. 

"Jincy," said I, "what were our two friends 
wishing just now?" In an instant I regretted 



154 SISTEB JANE. 

the question, but it was too late. Jincy Meadows 
whirled on his boot-heel and, quick as a flash, 
replied : — 

"They were wishing they knew where Mandy 
Satterlee is, and how she is getting on. Now, 
Johncy and Jimpsy! fair and square! " His face 
was flushed a little, and there was an eager gleam 
in his eye that I had missed before. 

"Well, sir," replied Grandsir Roach, speaking 
slowly and with emphasis, "uther you hyearn me 
a-thinkin' or you 're a witch for guessin'. Them 
thoughts was in my min'." 

"An' likewise in mine," assented Uncle Jimmy. 

"Now that is queer," said I. "Mandy Satter- 
lee is at our house, and has been there for many 
months." 

"At your house?" inquired Grandsir Eoach, 
as if he had suddenly become hard of hearing. 

"Yes," I replied. 

"She's at his house," remarked Grandsir 
Roach, nudging Uncle Jimmy Cosby. 

"Who? Mandy?" Uncle Jimmy asked as 
innocently as if he had heard not a word of the 
conversation. 

"Yes, Mandy Satterlee," I reiterated. 

Grandsir Roach stroked his beard, cleared his 
throat, and moved uneasily. "Well, sir," he 
said, after a pause, "I reckon she's well, an' 
doin' well; not overcome, as you may say, by — 
er — by — the — er — by whatsomever hard trials 
that may or may not have been her lot, an' not 



TWO OLD FRIENDS AND ANOTHER. 155 

only her 'n, but of hunderds an' thousan's, fer the 
way is liter'Uy strowd wi' traps an' pitfalls." 

While Grandsir Roach's embarrassment showed 
painfully in his voice and manner, and while he 
was speaking, Jincy Meadows was walking about 
in a quick, restless way. 

"Yes, Mandy is well," I responded. 

"Well, sir," said Grandsir Eoach with a dis- 
play of feeling that rarely comes to the surface in 
age, "when next you see Mandy Satterlee, tell 
her that Grandsir Roach axed arter her perticu- 
lar, an' said God bless her! " 

"An' tell her that her Uncle Jimmy Cosby said 
Amen! to that," remarked that individual with 
unction. 

"Johncy an' Jimpsy, what word shall I send 
her? " cried Jincy Meadows. "I can crack jokes 
with you all day, but when it comes to Mandy, 
my head's in a whirl. My mind flutters like a 
rag in the wind." 

Grandsir Eoach came to the rescue. "Tell 
Mandy," said he, with the simple dignity that 
only age can easily and unconsciously assume, 
"that you met three of her old-time friends who 
ain't fergot her. Call out the'r names plump an' 
plain, an' tell her that they axed arter her an' 
said God bless her ! " 

"Why not come with me and see her?" I 
asked before Jincy Meadows could say "a word. 
" Surely she would be glad to see her old friends 
who still take an interest in her. Come ! " 



156 SISTER JANE. 

Grandsir Roach stroked his beard thoughtfully. 
"Now, maybe she hain't prepar'd to see us. She 
may n't be strong. It mought do harm. Wimmen 
is mighty quare; you don't know one minnit what 
they 're a-gwine to do the next. An' no wonder 
— bekaze they don't know their self what they 're 
a-gwine to do." 

Uncle Jimmy Cosby nodded an assent to this 
that would have been vigorous if it had not been 
so solemn. 

"An' yit," Grandsir Roach went on, "if you 
think Mandy '11 be one half as glad to see us as 
we '11 be to see her, we '11 go right along an' say 
narry 'nother word." To which Uncle Jimmy 
again nodded his solemn assent. 

"Come!" I exclaimed, with as much enthusi- 
asm as I could now muster, for I had suddenly 
bethought me of sister Jane, and I was doubtful 
as to the light in which she would view the visita- 
tion. But Grandsir Roach and Uncle Jimmy 
Cosby were even more anxious to see Mandy than 
I had suspected, and when the invitation was 
repeated, they accepted it with alacrity. 

Jincy Meadows, it seemed, was of another 
mind. "I '11 go as close as the corner," said he, 
"an' wait there. Johncy and Jimpsy, when they 
come out, can tell me more than I could find out 
for myself. I 'm a mighty poor hand with wim- 
men folks. Them that don't think I 'm crazy 
don't keer whether I am or not, and so it goes." 

He broke into a lilting song : — 



TWO OLD FRIENDS AND ANOTHER. 157 

" The chickadee married the old hlue dart, 
And like to have hroke the gos-hawk's heart. 
The wedding took place in the finest weather, 
And nothing was left of the hride but a feather. 

"Well, Jincy, you know your own notions 
better 'n we do," remarked Grandsir Koach, in a 
kindly, soothing way. "We '11 tell Mandy we 
seed you, but what else to say I don't know." 

"Jest tell her I'm the same old Jincy, good- 
for-nothin' and no account. That '11 please her 
jest as well as anything." 

The young man's tone was so peculiar that I 
looked at him narrowly, and saw that his counte- 
nance had lost the happy-go-lucky expression it 
usually wore. Instead, he was frowning as if his 
thoughts were anything but pleasant. At the 
corner we left him, and as we entered the gate 
that opened on the little porch in front of my 
room, I looked back and saw him whittling away 
with his pocket knife on the tree-box, against 
which he was leaning. He was not the gay figure 
I had laughed at a quarter of an hour earlier. 

It was with some misgivings that I introduced 
Grandsir Roach and Uncle Jimmy Cosby under 
our roof on their present mission ; but their com- 
ing was at my invitation, and their age, their 
standing in the county, and their interest in 
Mandy Satterlee all pleaded mightily in their 
behalf. What I dreaded was the reception that 
sister Jane might accord them. If it occurred to 
her mind that they had come out of mere curios- 



158 SISTER JANE. 

ity, or for the purpose of placing upon Mandy a 
burden of perfunctory and therefore useless advice, 
she would not hesitate to send them about their 
business with their ears tingling. In view of such 
an emergency, I determined to leave the two old 
men in my room and send Mandy to them. Ac- 
cordingly I placed chairs for them, begged them 
to make themselves entirely at home, and excused 
myself while I went to inform Mandy of their 
presence. 



xn. 

THE MANTLE OF CHAEITY. 

I HOPED to find Mandy Satterlee in the kitchen, 
but she was sitting in sister Jane's room. 

"Mandy," said I, "two of your old friends 
have called to see you." 

She looked at sister Jane with a startled expres- 
sion on her face. "I wonder what they want wi' 
me!" she exclaimed. "I ain't got no friends 
that'd take the trouble to call on me — not that 
I know of." 

"Who are they, William?" inquired sister 
Jane, in a severe tone. 

"Grandsir Eoach and Uncle Jimmy Cosby," 
I replied. The startled expression went out of 
Mandy's face, but a contraction of her eyebrows 
showed she was puzzled. 

"Old Johnny Eoach!" exclaimed sister Jane. 
"Why, I thought he 'd been translated and trans- 
mogrified too long ago to talk about. What do 
they want with Mandy?" 

"Merely to see her," I explained. "They are 
old friends, and they seem to take an interest in 
her." . 

"Well, I hope we ain't to have the Georgy 



IGO SISTER JANE. 

militia trooping in here the next time there 's a 
general muster; that's what I hope. Where'- 
bouts did you leave 'em? In your room; well, 
tell 'em to shake the mud off their huffs and come 
in here. If they 're so keen to see Mandy, here 's 
the place to see her." 

I went back and invited Grandsir Eoach and 
Uncle Jimmy Cosby into sister Jane's room. 
They had both known us from childhood, but of 
late years they had seen my sister only at rare 
intervals. 

Grandsir Roach entered the room and looked 
around. Mandy had withdrawn to primp a little, 
as women will do, no matter how their minds 
may be racked with trouble. 

"Where 's Jane? " Grandsir Roach asked, bow- 
ing formally to my sister, and then turning to me. 

"You must be losing your eyesight, Grandsir 
Roach, if you don't know me," said sister Jane. 

"Why, is that reely you, Jane?" he cried, 
taking her hand and shaking it heartily. "Well, 
well, well! Why, I'd never 'a' know'd you in 
the roun' worl'. No; my sight is good — better'n 
it was ten year gone; but how was I to know 
you? I says to myself, as I come along, says I, 
' I reckon Jane must be agein' some, because she 
hain't no chicken.' That's what I said. But 
never did I hope to fin' you lookin' so well an' 
so young. Why, you hain't changed a mite in 
twenty year! " 

It was a neat compliment deftly delivered, and 



TEE MANTLE OF CHARITY. 161 

its deftness lay in its unexpectedness. It was so 
clearly the inspiration of the moment, that sister 
Jane was mightily pleased, as I could see. 

"This here 's Jimmy Cosby, Jane; shorely you 
ain't gone an' forgot Jimmy," Grandsir Koach 
went on. "Me an' Brother Cosby has been .close 
neighbors for now gwine on fifty year." 

"Why, of course I haven't forgotten Uncle 
Jimmy," said sister Jane, shaking his hand. 
"How could I? I used to ride liis horse to water 
court-week." 

"That's a fact — that's a fact, Jane," Uncle 
Jimmy assented. "Many an' many 's the time 
you use to ride my hoss to water when you was 
a little bit of a gal. I was mighty much obleego 
to you, an' yit many 's the time I 've been afeared 
you 'd fall off an' hurt yourse'f." 

"Yes, an' she 'd 'a' rid my hoss to water if it 
hadn't but 'a' been a mule," remarked Grandsir 
Eoach with a chuckle. "She was a right smart 
of a tomboy, Jane was, but she draw'd the line at 
mules." 

"An' I don't blame her a bit," Uncle Jimmy 
put in, "not narry single bit. They hain't no- 
body under the sun can git the bulge on a mule 
'ceptin' it 's a nigger. They know one another 
'crost a fifty acre lot." 

"An' don't you mind, Brother Cosby," said 
Grandsir Koach, chuckling more than ever, "that 
Jane was so little that when she taken your hoss 
to water, she rid straddle?" 



162 SISTER JANE. 

"Yes, sir — she did!" exclaimed Uncle Jimmy 
Cosby, "she certainly did. It had e'en about 
drapped out 'n my min'. If I hadn't saw it, an' 
had to be told of it, I never would believe it. 
No, sir, never! " 

Whereupon the two old men laughed heartily, 
and, although sister Jane laughed heartily, too, 
I noticed she was very red in the face as she 
placed chairs for our guests and begged them to 
be seated. 

"We're glad to see you, Jane, mighty glad," 
said Grandsir Koach, "but we called more spesh- 
ually for to see Mandy Satterlee. I fully expected 
to see her settin' here." 

Promptly upon the mention of her name Mandy 
appeared in the doorway and stood there. Her 
face was pale, and I noticed a hard, almost defiant 
expression in her eyes. 

Sister Jane must have noticed it, too, for when 
she said, "There 's Mandy, " her voice was 
pitched in a more subdued tone than usual. 

"Why, Mandy, honey! Howdy, howdy!" ex- 
claimed Grandsir Eoach, rising from his chair, 
and going toward her. "I 'm monstus glad to see 
you. Me an' your Uncle Jimmy thar come spesh- 
ually for to see you, an' to see how you was gittin' 
'long. Didn't we. Brother Cosby? That's the 
reason we come, honey, an' for nothin' else in the 
worl'." 

I thought Mandy would have fallen to the floor. 
She swayed back and forth, but caught the side 



THE MANTLE OF CNAR/TY. 1G3 

of the doorway with her hand, and then, with the 
cry of a frightened child, threw her arms around 
Grandsir Eoach's neck. When she raised her 
head the color had returned to her cheeks, and 
she was weeping. Still weeping, she ran from 
Grandsir Roach to Uncle Jimmy Cosby, and by 
the time she had so far recovered herself as to be 
able to talk, the two old men were wiping their 
eyes and snuffling as if they had suddenly been 
overtaken by acute summer colds. 

It is the privilege of age and of womanhood to 
think no shame of the display of those intimate 
emotions that are the spring of human love and 
duty, and these old men and this young woman 
made no effort whatsoever to conceal their feel- 
ings. Sister Jane went about the room pretend- 
ing to arrange things, the better to hide her agita- 
tion. She even went so far as to knock over the 
candlestick, which was no easy thing to do. The 
clatter made by this accident (for the candlestick 
fell from the mantel to the hearth, and the dent 
made in it is there to this day) acted somewhat as 
a restorative. 

"I declar' I hain't been kotch a-blubberih' like 
this sence — well, not sence I dunno when," said 
Grandsir Roach, "I reckon maybe we 're gittin' 
ol' an' fibble-minded, Brother Cosby." 

"Maybe so. Brother Roach," replied Uncle 
Jimmy Cosby, "but I allowed it was bekaze we 
hain't saw Mandy in sech a long time, an' we use 
to see her off an' on forty times a day. She was 



1G4 SISTER JANE. 

in an' out, out an' in, constantly," Uncle Jimmy- 
went on, seating himself once more — an example 
that was followed by all. "If she wa'n't a-comin' 
she wuz a-gwine; an' not a bit er trouble, not the 
least bit. She could tease an' yit not pester." 

"That's the fact truth," remarked Grandsir 
Roach — "it shorely is. It's the way of some 
gals," he went on, turning to me. "They can 
be aUers in the way apperiently an' yit not pester 
you. An' now she has been gone gwine on a year 
or sech a matter." 

I was in the habit of noticing trifles, and it 
struck me as curious that although Mandy was 
present in the flesh, the old men talked about her 
as if she were absent. 

" She 's lookin' well, oncommon well," sug- 
gested Uncle Jimmy. 

"Quite so, quite so," assented Grandsir Roach 
in a judicial tone. "She hain't sufferin' for lack 
of provender." 

"How's Aunt Sally an' Aunt Prue?" Mandy 
inquired. 

Grandsir Roach nodded toward Uncle Jimmy 
Cosby and Uncle Jimmy Cosby nodded toward 
Grandsir Roach. "I know 'd it!" said one; "I 
told you so!" echoed the other. And they were 
even more emphatic in giving quaint advertise- 
ment of their foreknowledge. 

"I know 'd that the minnit I laid eyes on 
Mandy, she 'd up an' ax about her Aunt Sally. 
I know'd it 'd be e'en about the fust word she 'd 



THE MANTLE OF CHARITY. 165 

say. An' I says to Brother Cosby, says I, ' Bro- 
ther Cosby, you watch Mandy — watch her right 
close, -an' see if she don't up an' ax arter her 
Aunt Sally the minnit she lays eyes on me. ' I 
leave it to Brother Cosby if I did n't." 

"He said them very identical words," responded 
Uncle Jimmy, as solemnly as if the matter was of 
the gravest possible moment. "An' I says to 
him, says I, as plain as ever I spoke in my life, 
' Brother Roach, ' says I, ' keep your two eyes on 
Mandy an' see if she don't make quick inquire- 
ments arter her aunt Prue,' says I. Did n't I say 
them words. Brother Roach ? " 

" Identically ■ — word for word, " Grandsir Roach 
promptly assented. "Sally's my wife," he turned 
to me to explain, "an' Prue 's his'n. They hain't 
no manner erkin to Mandy, but they 're lots closer 
kin on that account." 

"Aig-zackly so!" said Uncle Jimmy Cosby; 
he spoke deliberately and slowly so as to give the 
proper emphasis. 

Mandy laughed shyly, with a blush of pleasure 
on her cheeks, and no wonder. It had been long 
since such kindly words had fallen on her ears. 
"You hain't told me how they are yit," Mandy 
protested. 

"Well as common — well as common," replied 
Grandsir Roach, with a sigh. "01' age is 
a-ereepin' on. Not that they're cripple; no, oh 
no! They git about same as ever, but they ain't 
nigh as soople as they was ; not nigh. But they 're 



166 SISTER JANE. 

constantly a-complainin'. Your Aunt Sally can't 
have a ache but what your Aunt Prue can match 
it wi' a pain; an' your Aunt Prue can't have a 
tetch er pneumony but what your Aunt Sally 'U 
have a tetch er plooisy. I leave it to Brother 
Cosby there, if it hain't so. He 's settin' whar 
he can cont'adict me." 

"That's them!" exclaimed Uncle Jimmy 
Cosby. 

"Oh, I can see 'em now! " cried Mandy, clasp- 
ing her hands together tightly. "Aunt Sally 
a-weavin' an' quar'lin' when the thread broke, or 
when the sleys wouldn't work; an' Aunt Prue 
shooin' the chickens out 'n the gyarden an' siccin' 
the dogs on the pigs, an' Aunt Sally a-hoUerin' 
at Nancy, the house gal; an' Aunt Prue a-holler- 
in' fer the little niggers to come an' git some fresh 
buttermilk — I see 'em now." 

"Aig-zackly so!" remarked Uncle Jimmy 
Cosby in his deliberate way, while Grandsir 
Roach, with his chin in the hand that held his 
cane and a pleased smile on his face, watched the 
young woman. 

"An' Aunt Sally an' Aunt Prue settin' in the 
same pew at church on the fust Sunday in the 
month — Aunt Sally fat an' Aunt Prue lean — an' 
a-taking in ev'ry word the preacher says. An' 
Aunt Sally a-dishin' out the chicken pie at her 
house, an' Aunt Prue the apple dumplin' at her 'n. " 

"<SAe knows a thing or two," remarked Uncle 
Jimmy Cosby, turning to me. 



THE MANTLE OF CHARITY. 167 

"It hain't been so mighty long ago, honey," 
said Grandsir Eoach, "when your Aunt Prue an' 
Brother Cosby picked up an' come over to our 
house — le' me see: wa'n't it last Sunday night, 
Brother Cosby ? Yes — last Sunday night. Your 
Aunt Sally an' your Aunt Prue is constant 
a-gwine an' a-comin', but it hain't so mighty 
often that Brother Cosby, thar, an' me picks up 
an' goes wi' 'em. But your Aunt Prue come last 
Sunday night, an' Brother Cosby, thar, come wi' 
'er. Now when me an' Brother Cosby strike up 
wi' one another, an' hain't got nothin' better for 
to do than to smoke our pipes, we most allers 
in giner'lly gits tangled up on politics an' sech 
matters. Brother Cosby's a dimercrat an' I 'm a 
whig. He wants to run the country one way an' 
I want to run it another, an' so we argy, an' argy 
as hot as pepper, an' uther he gits mad or I fly 
up like a fool — an' that, too, when they hain't 
no more chance of uther one a-runnin' the coun- 
try than they is of his jumpin' to the moon. If 
politics wa'n't hatched for to kick up a flurry 
betwixt neighbors, I dunno what they was hatched 
for, danged if I do I 

"But last Sunday night, as luck would have 
it," Grandsir Roach went on, "politics wa'n't 
brung up betwixt us. We sot an' smoked an' 
listened at the wimmin a-gwine on. Your Aunt 
Prue had saw some new-fangled bonnet some'rs er 
nother, an' she sot right flat-footed in her cheer 
thar an' pietur'd out to your Aunt Sally ev'ry 



168 SISTER JANE. 

flower an' folderol an' all the conflutements that 
the consarn had on it. I winked at Brother Cosby 
an' he winked at me, as we sot a-smokin' an' 
a-lis'nin'. Then, not to be outdone, your Aunt 
Sally, she up 'd an' tol' your Aunt Prue about 
a new frock she seed some 'oman er nother have 
on, an' thar they had it up an' down. Sech a 
frock I ain't hyearn tell on in many a long day 
before. It had purty, flowin' sleeves, an' the 
waist was cut bias, so your Aunt Sally said, an 
there was a streak er ribbin here an' a stripe of 
yaller trimmin' thar, an' the skyirt was gethered 
so, an' braid run down the sides. An' ' whar- 
bouts was the placket ? ' says your Aunt Prue, 
an' ' 'T was teetotally hid out 'n sight,' says your 
Aunt Sally. That 's the way they run on with 
their rigamarole. 

" Bimeby I sez to Brother Cosby, says I, ' Bro- 
ther Cosby, how 's craps ? ' says I. Did n't I, 
Brother Cosby ? I leave it to you." 

"You said them very words, Brother Roach," 
replied Uncle Jimmy Cosby, " an' I ups an' says, 
says I, ' Well, Brother Roach,' says I, ' they're 
lots better 'n we desarve, but not as good as I 
hoped for,' says I." 

"He said them identical words," continued 
Grandsir Roach, looking proudly around to see 
what effect had been produced on his small audi- 
ence. "An' then I hitched my cheer back an' 
says, says I, ' I wonder whar 'bouts in this wide 
worl' Mandy Satterlee is this night?' At that, 



THE MANTLE OF CHARITY. 169 

the wimmen squared aroun' an' looked at me an' 
then looked in the fireplace. You mind that 
cheer you use to set in, don't you, honey? The 
one what was so high that I had to saw the legs 
off so you could make your feet tech the floor? " 

"That was when I was a little gal," remarked 
Mandy. 

"That's so, honey," Grandsir Roach went on, 
"but you never sot in no other cheer, not in my 
house, less'n you was a-settin' at the dinner-table. 
Well, thar sot your cheer in the cornder whar it 
aUers sets at. Your Aunt Sally looked at it an' 
sorter draw'd a long breath, an' says, says she, 
' Thar sets her cheer. It looks like it 's a-waitin' 
for her to come back,' says she." 

"Oh, did she say that?" cried Mandy. "Tell 
her I love her more an' more the older I git." 

"Them was her words," said Uncle Jimmy 
Cosby, with more gravity than ever. 

" Jes' so!" Grandsir Roach went on — "jes' 
so ! It 's like I tell you. But that ain't all. Your 
Aunt Prue she looks over at the cheer, an' ups an' 
says, says she, ' I ain't got no cheer fer Mandy in 
pertickler, but they 're all her'n ef she '11 come an' 
set in 'em. They 're all her'n,' says she, ' an' the 
Lord knows my heart jest natchuUy yearns arter 
that gal. Day or night,' says she, ' no matter how 
she comes, no matter when she comes, no matter 
whiehaway she comes, my arms is open for her,' 
says she." 

" Word for word that was what she said," re- 
marked Uncle Jimmy Cosby. 



170 SISTES JANE. 

" Oh, I love 'em both," said Mandy, almost in 
a whisper. Her voice was husky, and to hide her 
tears she turned sidewise, threw her arms on the 
back of her chair and hid her face in her hands. 

" Yessum an' yes, sir ! " exclaimed Grandsir 
Roach, nodding first to sister Jane and then to 
me ; " that 's the way it happened. An' then we 
all sot right still an' looked in the fire, an' all 
a-thinkin' an' a-thinkin' 'bout Mandy Satterlee. 
Terreckly, your Aunt Sally ups an' says, says she, 
'The settlement hain't what it use to be when 
Mandy was aroun'. She 'd come a^runnin',' says 
she, ' an' grab me 'roun' the neck an' gi' me a good 
hug most 'fore I know'd who under the blue cano- 
pies it was,' says she, ' an' when it come to fillin' 
the sleys, her fingers was nimble as a gray spider's 
legs,' says she. 

" ' Yes, yes,' says your Aunt Prue, says she ; 
' whatsomever was to be done she 'd do an' sing 
all the time she was a-doin' of it,' says she, ' an' 
many a time when it looked like she was lonesome, 
she 'd come an' cuddle down on the floor,' says she, 
' an' lay her face agin my knee an' set cuddled up 
that a-way for ever so long. If a day passed that 
she did n't come, I 'd begin for to feel oneasy,' says 
she. I '11 leave it to Brother Cosby here, honey, 
if that wa' n't about the upshot of what your Aunt 
Prue said." 

" Even so, even so. Brother Eoach," remarked 
Uncle Jimmy Cosby. " An' more than that, when 
me an' your Aunt Prue went home that night — 



TEE MANTLE OF CHARITY. 171 

it 's but a step ; little better 'n a quarter of a mile 
— the fire had kinder died out on the h'ath, an' so, 
jest as natchual as you please, I sot to work to 
kindle a light. I got me a light-'ud knot whar I 
allers keep 'em, an' then I got down on my knees 
an' blow'd, an' blow'd teU it looked like I could n't 
blow no more, an' all that time I did n't hear your 
Aunt Prue make a sign of fuss. I come mighty 
nigh a-losin' both my mind an' my temper, the 
fire was so hard for to kindle ; an' bimeby I says 
to your Aunt Prue, says I, ' Ma ! ' — I allers call 
her ma sence we had childun an' lost 'em — I hol- 
la'd out, I did, ' Ma, what in the Nation do you 
reckon has got into the fire ? ' says I. Yit not a 
sign of a soun' did she make, so I allowed she had 
gone into the next room, or maybe in the kitchen. 
Then I took my ol' wool hat an' fetched the h'ath 
a swipe or two, an' the blaze sprung up so sudden 
that I most fanned it out ag'in before I could 
ketch my han'. I looked up an' there was your 
Aunt Prue a-standin' right at me, an' she had her 
hankcher out a-cryin'. 

" ' Why, ma,' says I, ' what on the roun' earth 's 
the matter ? ' bekaze it hain't so mighty often you 
see your Aunt Prue arcryin' that a-way. I says, 
says I, ' You 're nervious, ma, an' you better go to 
bed.' An' then," — Uncle Jimmy Cosby paused 
here to chuckle — " an' then she flew up like wim- 
men will. ' I hain't no more nervious than you,' 
says she, ' an' I 'U go to bed when I git good an' 
ready. It 's come to a mighty purty pass when I 



172 SISTER JANE. 

can't cry when I want to,' says she. I know'd 
right then she was a-cryin' 'bout Mandy, an' when 
she had sorter cooled off she up 'd an' tol' me so." 

Mandy raised her head and exclaimed, " Oh, 
don't let 'em cry for me. Oh, please don't. I 
hain't wuth a thought from narry one of them good 
wimmen. I love 'em — I love 'em lots better 'n 
if they was any kin to me ; but I ain't fitten to be 
loved by nobody." 

" Why, honey ! " said Grandsir Roach gently. 
" You 're fergittin' all about the Bible." 

" I ain't fitten to think about the Bible," pro- 
tested Mandy. 

By a lift of her eyebrows and a slight motion of 
her head sister Jane gave the two old men to 
understand that it would be well to let Mandy 
fight with her troubles in her own way. Grandsir 
Roach lifted his hat from the floor beside his chair 
where he had dropped it, and Uncle Jimmy Cosby 
did the same. 

" I thank you kindly, Jane, for permittin' of us 
to come an' see Mandy. I thank you from the 
bottom of my heart. It '11 do us a sight of good 
if it don't do her none. An' we '11 go back home 
an' tell her Aunt Sally an' her Aunt Prue how 
comf 'tubly she 's fixed, an' they '11 be might'ly holp 
up — might'ly holp up." 

He turned to Mandy. " Good - by, honey. 
We '11 drap in an' see you once in a way when we 
come to town if we hain't wore our welcome out 
wi' Jane here." 



THE MANTLE OF CHARITY. 173 

" You can't wear your welcome out in this 
house," said my sister with more earnestness than 
I had seen her display toward people with whom 
she was not intimate. 

" I thank you kindly, Jane ; I do from the bot- 
tom of my heart," Grandsir Roach responded. He 
turned again to Mandy. " Honey, when you git 
w'ary an' tired, you know whar to come. When 
you git homesick " — 

" Oh, I 'm allers homesick ! " cried Mandy. 
" Day an' night, night an' day." 

" That 's a great compliment to me," said sister 
Jane, trying to give a lighter turn to the conversa- 
tion. 

For answer, Mandy ran and seized sister Jane 
in her strong arms. " I love you as well as I ever 
did anybody," she sobbed. " Nobody in the world 
has done more for me than what you 've done. 
Oh, please don't talk that away." 

Sister Jane petted and consoled the poor 
girl much as if she had been a child, and as effect- 
ually. 

" We left Jincy Meadows out thar," remarked 
Uncle Jimmy Cosby, " an' we 've got to be 
agwine." 

" How is Jincy ? " asked Mandy. 

" Well as common — e'en about the same ol' 
Jincy — full of queer notions. If you want to see 
him " — Uncle Jimmy paused, and stood waiting. 

" Not now," said Mandy, " not now ; maybe 
never — I dunno." 



174 SISTER JANE. 

" That '11 be a mighty hard tale to tell JIncy, 
honey," suggested Grand sir Roach. 

" I '11 think — I can't tell," cried Mandy, stand- 
ing irresolute. " Some time — but not now. Oh, 
I hain't fitten for Jincy to be a pesterin' hisse'f 
'long of." 

" Bless your heart, honey," said Grandsir Eoach 
with a chuckle, " it don't pester Jincy the least bit 
in the worl'. I 'U teU 'im for to come see you 
some day when you 're feelin' well." 

Then the two old men took their leave of Mandy 
and sister Jane. As I went with them to the 
outer door I remarked to Grandsjr Roach : — 

" You and Uncle Jimmy Cosby certainly know 
how to deal out charity." 

" Charity ! " exclaimed Grandsir Roach. " Why, 
William, what does Paul say? Look it up in the 
Bible ! Why, take charity out 'n religion an' what 
in the name of common sense would be left ? No- 
thin' but the dry peelin's. It 'd be like takin' corn 
out 'n the shuck. Shucks '11 maybe do for steers 
an' dry cattle, an' they 're mighty poor ruffage 
e'en for them ; but you give shucks to creeturs 
what 's got any sense an' they '11 snort at 'em an' 
walk away from the trough. Why, William, a 
man that reely knows he 's got a soul for to save 
is bound by his own sins to be charitable when it 
comes to t' other folks's sins." 

I shook hands with my two old friends and 
made haste to write down Grandsir Roach's sermon 
on charity. 



XIII. 

JINCT MEADOWS COMES A-CALLING. 

Aftek that, I noticed that Mandy went about 
the business she had taken on herself much more 
cheerfully. She had a knack of singing from the 
first, but I had found out long ago that it was the 
result of habit rather than of mental exaltation. 
I had remarked on her singing one day when she 
looked at me with surprise. 

" La ! was I singin' ? " she asked. " I did n't 
know it, an' I 'm mighty certain I don't feel much 
like singin'. I reckon you an' Miss Jane take me 
to be a mighty quare creetur." 

But in a short while I heard her singing again, 
and then I knew it was a habit that afforded some 
relief from her distracted thoughts, such as I was 
sure she had. I had seen the evidence of it too 
often to doubt it. Yet her songs were a shade 
blither, it seemed to me, after the visit of Grandsir 
Roach and Uncle Jimmy Cosby; and I thought 
there was a brightness about her that had been 
lacking before. But I could not be sure, for sister 
Jane had charged such wild extravagance to my 
imagination that I was sometimes inclined to doubt 
the evidence of my own eyes. But in this matter 



176 SISTER JANE. 

I had Klibs as a witness, for that stout toddler was 
staring at me one day, not long after the visit of 
Mandy's two old friends, when he suddenly re- 
marked : — 

" Mammy ting now. Fwen me git feepy, she 
don't ky no mo. Her ting." The solemnity of 
this remark was shattered when Klibs followed it 
almost immediately with a dire threat and prophe- 
sied its results. " Me dine ter tut off Tommy tat's 
tail. Den Nanny Dane will tut off my wears." 
Which, being interpreted fairly and fully, was as 
much as to say that Klibs intended to cut off 
Tommy Tinkins's tail, a crime that would be pun- 
ished by the loss of Klibs's ears. 

So I said to him as solemnly as I could that it 
would be well to save his ears by allowing the cat 
to carry his tail in comfort and peace. 

" Oo tut off Tommy tat's tail," suggested Klibs, 
by way of a compromise. " Me dit de tizzers." 

" No, I thank you, Klibs," I replied. " Aunty 
Jane would cut off my ears, too." 

" Oo tan byake de 'ookin-dass, den." 

" No, no, Klibs ; go and hreak it yourself." 

" Uh-uh ! " said the toddler. " Nanny Dane tut 
off my finners." 

I was much struck by the fact that the change 
in Mandy had been observed by the child, who 
was now about two years old. It is gratifying to 
have our notions confirmed, no matter from what 
source, and I have often observed that the most 
ordinary person becomes important in our estima- 



JINCY MEADOWS COMES A-CALLING. 177 

tion in proportion to his ability to flatter us by 
confirming our views or agreeing with our opin- 
ions. 

It is not to be supposed that Klibs, the baby, 
was as viciously disposed as his conversation would 
lead one to suspect. He had been told not to 
worry the cat, not to play with the scissors, and 
not to break the looking-glass ; and, like our first 
parents in the garden, his mind dwelt on that 
which he was forbidden to do. In fact, the inter- 
diction he regarded as a suggestion, and, young as 
he was, his " finners " (as he called them) ached 
and itched to go about getting the scissors to cut 
the cat's tail off : and when that was impossible he 
wanted to see the mirror broken by some other 
hand. Here was the old Adam over again ; and 
so plain a case that it confirmed the suspicion in 
my mind that the original Adam, not being will- 
ing to assume the responsibility, begged mother 
Eve to pluck the apple and taste it on the sly. 

As may be supposed, the baby had thrived won- 
derfidly. Without a special nurse, it grew to be 
an independent youngster, and having no other 
children to play with, it took on older ways than 
most youngsters have, and came to be very preco- 
cious. Nevertheless it may be said of Klibs that 
he never knew what real life and enjoyment was 
until Free Betsey came to see her young mistress, 
which she did shortly after the episode that has 
already been described. Mandy Satterlee, know- 
ing Free Betsey of old, had all confidence in her 



178 STSTEB JANE. 

trustworthiness. Indeed, when the negro woman 
took the child in her arms and was gone for half a 
day, as sometimes happened, Mandy betrayed less 
uneasiness than did sister Jane, who was constantly 
running to the little gate and looking up and down 
the street. More than once I could see that sister 
Jane was irritated with Mandy for not sharing her 
anxiety about the child. 

Once I heard her say, " I '11 be bound, if I had 
a child I would n't trust it to no old nigger trollop 
and let her tote it off, you don't know where, and 
keep it half the day." 

To which Mandy replied : " Well, if you know 'd 
Mammy Betsey as weU as I do you would n't let 
it pester your mind a minnit — not a blessed 
minnit." 

" I may not know Free Betsey so mighty well," 
retorted sister Jane, " but I know the nigger tribe, 
an' I would n't trust one of 'em out of sight with 
anything that I set store by." 

On one occasion it happened that sister Jane, 
by reason of an unforeseen accident that befell 
Klibs, was able to shake her head and cry, " I 
told you so." Free Betsey was in the habit of 
carrying the baby to see Mrs. Beshears in the 
mornings or during the afternoons. She was al- 
ways welcome there, for Mrs. Beshears had taken 
a great fancy to the baby. It chanced that there 
was an old gray goose brooding on a nestful of 
eggs in the narrow space that separated two negro 
cabins. Whether Klibs saw the old gray goose 



JINCY MEADOWS COMES A-CALLING. 179 

and desired to introduce himseK, or whether he 
was merely exploring the nook because it presented 
new possibilities of mischief, it is impossible to 
say. All that is clearly known is that there was 
a tremendous noise of squalling, and flapping, and 
fluttering. Free Betsey was on hand before the 
old gray goose could do any serious damage with 
her strong beak and wings, but the incident exer- 
cised a wholesome influence over Klibs that lasted 
many months. As sister Jane dryly remarked, 
when she came to appreciate the humor of the 
affair, " Klibs came home sober for the first time 
in many weeks." 

We laughed heartily when Free Betsey gave 
her version of the event, remarking among other 
things that the baby was too badly frightened or 
too much astonished to cry. Klibs listened to the 
narration with a solemn air that was too funny to 
admit of description. When Free Betsey paused, 
he toddled to the middle of the floor and stood 
there a moment gravely regarding us. When he 
spoke it was to the point. 

" Doose say sh-h-h ! " then he waved his chubby 
hands up and down and ran about with his mouth 
open to show how demon-like the attack had 
been. He concluded the pantomime by flopping 
down on the floor and rolling over and over to show 
by what shrewd antics he had escaped annihilation. 
Then he sat up and gave us the owl-like stare that 
always preceded his efforts to engage in conversa- 
tion. 



180 SISTEB JANE. 

" Nanny Dane dine tut ol' doose's finners off," 
he remarked, adding : " Me byake ol' doose's 
'ookin-dass ; me tut 'im tail off wif de tizzers." 

Whereupon sister Jane swooped down upon him, 
lifted him in her arms, and proceeded to " hug him 
to death," a threat she often made. " You pre- 
cious child ! " she exclaimed. " That old gray 
goose shan't treat you so — Nanny Dane will cut 
off the old goose's fingers, and you shall cut off 
her tail with the scissors," with much more to the 
same effect, some of it untranslatable. 

Klibs's adventure with the old gray goose was 
very fortunate in many respects. It was a strong 
source of discipline, as we shortly found out. If 
he started to go where he had been told not to go, 
or to do anything he had been told not to do, we 
had but to mention the old gray goose. He had 
deep thoughts about the goose. He pondered over 
the problem she presented. He would sit for long 
minutes apparently studying his chubby hands, 
and suddenly remark : " Me ol' doose ! " Then 
he would shake his arms up and down as the goose 
shook her wings. I often thought Klibs must 
have had a keen eye to see so much in such a 
short space of time, for those who have disturbed 
old mother goose when she is brooding have good 
reason to know that she never pauses to count her 
steps when making an attack. 

One morning several weeks after the visit of 
Grandsir Eoach and Uncle Jimmy Cosby, I heard 
a light knocking on my door. Opening it, I found 



JINCY MEADOWS COMES A-CALLING. 181 

Jincy Meadows standing on the little porch. He 
was better dressed than usual, but his face wore an 
expression of extreme embarrassment. 

"Sh-h-h!" he whispered. "Don't holla my 
name out loud. I knocked and then I got ready 
to run, but before I could jump off the porch you 
opened the door. Why, you must 'a' been standin' 
right there ready and waitin'." 

" Come in — come in," I said, with as much 
hospitality as I could muster at the moment. 
"What is the matter?" 

" Don't holla so loud," Jincy protested. " Why, 
they can hear you on the fur side of town, much 
less in the house." 

" I 'm not talking above a breath," I explained. 

" Maybe not," remarked Jincy with a comical 
air of trepidation, " but to a skeer'd man it sounds 
like thunder." 

" Come in," I insisted. 

"Well, don't shet the door too tight," said 
Jincy. " I 'm two minds whether to stay or 
whether to cut and run. Leave the door on the 
crack, for if I was to hear a bug hit agin the wall 
I 'd make a break." 

" Well, there is nothing here to hurt you, 
Jincy," I remarked, determined to humor his 
whims. 

"That's the trouble," he explained, "I don't 
mind knockin' and bein' knocked ; I 'm allers the 
skeerdest when there 's nothin' to be skeer'd at." 

" Very well," said I, " if you want to be fright- 



182 SISTER JANE. 

ened at nothing, there 's no harm done, and if you 
want to run, I '11 clap my hands and cry ' Well 
done ! ' " 

" Now that 's right," replied Jincy. " I feel lots 
more at home when I know you don't mind if I 
break and run. If anybody had 'a' told me ten 
minnits ago that I 'd be a-settin' up in here, I 'd 'a' 
said they was the biggest liars on the face of the 
earth. And yit I laid off for to come here when 
I loped out from home." 

" Well, you are all dressed up," I suggested. 
"If I had met you on the street, I should have 
said to myself, ' There goes a young buck intent 
on paying a call.' " 

" Would you now ? " inquired Jincy, a broad 
grin spreading over his face. " Well, I '11 be 
dang ! You 'd 'a' saw me and 'a' know'd it ! But 
that 's jest the trouble," he went on, hitching his 
chair a little closer to mine. " I don't know what 
fool notion made me fling on this Sunday rig. It 
makes me feel like pitchin' out and 'tendin' some 
church or other. I ain't met a man in the road but 
what I expected him to pop his whip and drap me 
a scriptur' text. It 's the cloze ; nothiu' but the 
cloze. I says to myself, when I put 'em on, ' I '11 
go call on Mandy Satterlee.' Then, when I got 
to the town branch, I watered my hoss and says, 
' No, I '11 not call on her ; I '11 jest go and ax how 
she 's a-gittin' on.' When I got to town, I says, 
' No, I '11 jest make like I 'm axin' about her ; I '11 
go to the door and knock on it, light as a feather. 



JINCY MEADOWS COMES A-CALLING. 183 

and then walk off as big as anybody.' Did you 
reely bear me knock, or was you comin' out on 
your own hook ? " he asked. 

" Of course I heard you knock," said I. " It 
sounded as though some one were trying to batter 
the door down." 

He doubled his fist and looked at it apparently 
with great curiosity. Then he spread out his hand 
on his knee and viewed it critically. It was not 
an ugly hand by any means, having known very 
little hard work. 

" That hand 's lots too heavy," he remarked ; 
" lots too heavy for the rest of my body. I hit 
that door as light as I could to save my life. 
But, shucks ! my luck 's on the wrong side of the 
fence, and it 's a fence I can't climb, jump, nor 
creep through." 

" You wanted to come without being seen, and 
knock without being heard," I suggested. 

" That 's it ; you 've hit the nail plum' on the 
head. I jest wanted to make like I 'd been and 
called on Mandy. You know how the boys play. 
They straddle a cornstalk, or a broom-handle, and 
it 's every bit and grain as good as a horse to them. 
I wanted to play like I 'd come and axed after 
Mandy, and I 've gone and made it too natchal. 
I 'd 'a' done jest as well, and I 'd 'a' felt a dang 
sight better, if I 'd 'a' stopped at the corner and 
sent my thoughts in 'stead of me." 

Now, strange as it may appear, the humor of 
the lad jumped queerly with mine. I had lived 



184 SISTER JANE. 

his experience over a thousand times, but had 
never carried it to the point of knocking at the 
door. I had sat in my snng room and sent my 
thoughts out — my thoughts that were so swift of 
foot that they could travel across the garden in an 
instant, and so light of hand that they could knock 
at a window I knew and make no more noise than 
a flake of thistle down. I knew that if the lad 
before me had the whimsies, the same trouble had 
seized me, the difference being that I was more 
secretive, or more diplomatic, to use a pleasanter 
phrase. All this passed through my mind while 
Jincy Meadows was talking. 

" Well, we all play at the game of make-believe 
more or less," I said. " I know of nothing more 
comforting." 

" Is that so ? " inquired Jincy. " All the folks 
say I 'm a fool except a passel of old wimmen that 
don't know no better. I reckon a fool gits to be a 
wise man when he larns how to keep his mouth 
shet." 

" That is about the way of it," I answered. 

"I 'ma lee tie worse 'n the balance of 'em," 
Jincy persisted, " 'cause they play make - belief 
where nobody can't see 'em except them that 
knows 'em. But look at me ! When I start the 
game, I run everything in the ground and break it 
off. Look where I am now ! " 

" You 're in good company," said I, " though I 
dare say you think you might be in better." 

He shook his head, thought a moment, glanced 



JINCT MEADOWS COMES A-CALLING. 185 

at his watch, which was a very fine one, and rose 
hurriedly. " I must go," he said ; "it 's a quarter 
of an hour later than it was a while ago, and I 've 
got a special appointment with myself on the other 
side of town." 

" I think Mandy would be glad to see you," I 
suggested ; " but if you are obliged to go, why that 
is another matter. What message shall I give to 
her?" 

But I had no need to carry a message, nor Jincy 
time to invent one, for, as I spoke, the inner door 
opened, and Mandy herself came into the room. 
The surprise was mutual. Jiney backed and 
bowed, and made as awkward appearance as pos- 
sible. Mandy blushed furiously, whether with 
pleasure or with sheer embarrassment it was im- 
possible to say. Being a woman, however, she 
was the first to recover her self-possession.. 

" Why, howdy, Jincy ? " she said cordially, and 
yet somewhat coolly, seeing that Jincy and she 
had known each other all their lives. Jincy took 
her extended hand, and shook it with formal po- 
liteness. 

"I was jest a-talkin' with the squire, here," 
Jincy stammered. 

" How 's ever'body an' ever'thing ? " Mandy 
asked, instinctively looking at her reflection in the 
glass door of one of the book-cases. 

" Well, speakin' one way," replied Jincy, " ever'- 
body an' ever'thing is gittin' on tollable well ; an' 
speakin' another way, they ain't gittin' on so well." 



186. S/STER JANE. 

" How 's that ? " Mandy inquired, giving him a 
quick glance. 

" Easy enough," answered Jincy, recovering his 
equanimity somewhat. " Some 's rambled, some 's 
ambled, some 's took to their bed, an' some 's 
dead." 

I wondered if Mandy, perhaps with a keener 
apprehension in this matter than mine, could 
understand what the lad was driving at. She 
laughed, and was about to say something, when 
sister Jane walked in. 

" Well, the Lord 'a' mercy ! " she cried, " what 's 
all this ? And Jincy Meadows, too ! Why, Jincy, 
I ain't seen you in a coon's age — not since the 
day you sassed me in the street and I made your 
daddy spank you for it. That 's what you got for 
telling the truth on me. I 've been sorry for it a 
thousand times, Jincy. Them that have got a glib 
tongue, man or woman, have the right to use it. 
I hope you don't bear no grudges, Jincy." 

" Why, not the least bit in the world. Miss 
Jane," answered Jincy, laughing. " It made me 
think about you, and if them that you think about 
is worth thinkin' about you 're more than apt to like 
'em. That 's the way I 've worked it out ; but I 
reckon it 's a fool way. That 's what they all say." 

" No, no, Jincy ! not all, nor yet half of 'em," 
said sister Jane. " When you hear me say you 're 
a fool, Jincy, you may know it 's time to go to the 
asylum. I ain't said it yet. But this ain't fair — 
two grown men against one lone woman. Come 



JINCY MEADOWS COMES A-CALLING. 187 

in my room, Mandy, and if William and Jincy 
like hunting us up, why, they can do so — espe- 
cially Jincy." 

" Well 'm, I 've got some business on t' other 
side of town," explained Jincy, " and I reckon I 'd 
better go and 'tend to it-" 

" Business, Jincy? " exclaimed sister Jane, with 
good-humored scorn. " Why, you never had a 
scrimption of business in all your born days. 
Come in my room and tell me all the news." 

Sister Jane was a constant surprise to me, as 
all women are to those who try to please them, but 
nothing she ever did (except on a later occasion) 
was more surprising to me than her attitude to- 
ward Jincy Meadows. I traced it to her goodness 
of heart, for Jincy had the reputation of a ne'er- 
do-well, and was in fact leading a roving and aim- 
less existence, though, as I have said, his father, 
Larkin Meadows, was weU to do, owning a fine 
plantation and many negroes. The majority of 
people thought Jincy was a half-wit and a vaga- 
bond, and only a few suspected that the lad had a 
mind gifted above the common. 

With an embarrassment that was almost painful 
to witness, Jincy followed sister Jane and Mandy. 
He tried to relieve his feelings by turning and 
winking at me in the most solemn manner as I fol- 
lowed the three down the hallway. But I could 
see that this attempt at comic by-play was futile. 
It was far from relieving his feelings. He had 
evidently stumbled into a predicament (if it could 



188 SISTER JANE. 

be called such) where his drollery had lost its 
flavor. Yet with all his embarrassment, which I 
could appreciate to the fullest extent, he managed 
to put a good face on his inward misery. 

Pausing at the door of sister Jane's room, he 
turned to me and said : " I reckon you ain't never 
accidently fell in the creek on a cold mornin', have 
you, squire ? " Before I had time to answer, he 
went into the room and I followed. 

" I did n't have any hopes of seein' the ladies," 
remarked Jincy in self-defense, as he seated him- 
self. " I jest come to talk to the squire here about 
a little p'int of law, and I did n't have time to git 
around to it before you ladies come arrushin' in." 

" Maybe I can tell you more about it than 
William," said sister Jane. "William has his 
shingle hung out, but the whole neighborhood 
knows that I 'm the lawyer of the family." 

" Well 'm, it 's this," replied Jincy, winking at 
me : " I called on the squire for to ax him if it 's 
lawful for a country chap to jine in with these 
town play-actors that call themselves ' The Philo- 
logians.' It 's a mighty big word for to git jined 
on to and I did n't know but there was some sort 
of a trap set in it for to catch greenies." 

" La ! I would n't jine it, Jincy, wi' sech a name 
as that," said Mandy. " They might want to do 
you some bodily harm or somethin'." 

" The what? " asked sister Jane. 

" The Philologians. Ain't it so, squire ? " 

Now there was really a company of the young 



JINCY MEADOWS COMES A-CALLING. 189 

men in the village who were trying to arrange for 
amateur theatricals, and they had formed a club 
which, without regard for the proper meaning of 
the term (or a great deal, according to the way 
you viewed it), was called " The Philologians." 
Therefore I promptly and heartily corroborated 
Jincy's statement. 

" Then there was another question I wanted to 
ax the squire," said Jincy, who was now beginning 
to feel more at ease. 

" Out with it," exclaimed sister Jane. "I'm 
as good a lawyer as William any day in the week, 
and Sunday too." 

"You ain't answered the first p'int," replied 
Jincy, with a lift of his eyebrows that changed the 
usual vacant expression of his face to one of ex- 
treme shrewdness. 

" Good ! " I cried, laughing to see the effect of 
Jincy's reply on sister Jane. 

" Maybe she can tell better when she gits the 
two p'ints together and jines 'em," suggested Jincy. 

" That 's so, Jincy," said sister Jane with an air 
of relief. " You 're a better lawyer right now than 
WiUiam." 

" Well, the next p'int is this," Jincy went on ; 
" they want me to be a lady. I 've got to have a 
husband named Fazio, and I 've got to put on 
frocks and things, and strut around right smart. 
Now, what I want to know, ain't it a plum' breakin' 
of the law for me to put on frocks and make out 
I 've got a ol' man ? " 



190 SISTER JANE. 

Sister Jane laughed heartily and then grew 
solemn. " So they say you 're a fool, do they, 
Jincy ? Well, I wish all the people I know had as 
much sense as you've got. I'd like 'em lots 
better 'n I do." 

" Well 'm, it 's so easy to have what folks call 
sense, that I ease my mind by playin' the fool." 

Mandy laughed at this remark, but there was a 
touch of uneasiness in her manner, for at that 
moment Klibs marched in, accompanied by Tommy 
Tinkins. The baby stationed himself by sister 
Jane's knee and stared solemnly at Jincy. " Oo 
dat, Nanny Dane ? " he asked. 

" Old Zip Coon ! " replied Jincy so suddenly 
that Klibs retreated behind sister Jane's chair, and 
from that coign of vantage smiled serenely at the 
young man. Tommy Tinkins, however, had no 
share in Klibs's alarm or bashfulness. He in- 
sisted on jumping to Jincy's knee, and was not 
satisfied even with that demonstration of confidence, 
for he reared himself to the lad's shoulder, and 
rubbed against his chin and neck. 

" He 's not that friendly with everybody that 
comes along, Jincy," explained sister Jane. 
" That cat knows a thing or two." 

" Well 'm, they 're all mighty friendly wi' me," 
remarked Jincy ; " cats, dogs, cattle, bosses, and 
all the wild creeturs, specially the birds." 

" What about that mocking-bird swinging on 
the cedar out there ? " I asked. 

Jincy rose and glanced at him. " Why, he 's 



JINCY MEADOWS COMES A-CALLINO. 191 

the same to me as if he was in a cage," he re- 
plied. " I can walk right out and call him to my 
hand." 

" He can so ! " protested Mandy, seeing me 
laugh as if the lad had made an idle jest. 

" The proof of the pudding is chewing the bag," 
remarked sister Jane. 

" That 's so," said Jincy, " and I '11 show you. 
Come out and see, but don't git too close." 

So we adjourned to the garden. Jincy went near 
the tree and gave a whistling chirrup. The bird 
was so startled by the unexpectedness of the call 
that it flew to the top of the cedar, swung there a 
moment, giving forth the " chuh " cry that stands 
for anger, alarm and surprise, and then flew wildly 
to the top of the big china tree on the sidewalk. 
Again Jincy gave his whistling call, and the bird 
came fluttering back, this time making as if it would 
light on his hat, but flying away again. Once 
more the whistling call sounded, and the bird 
fluttered around and over Jincy's head in the most 
peculiar way. 

" What 's the matter with you ? " cried Jincy 
impatiently. Then his eyes fell on Tommy Tin- 
kins, who was crouching at his feet and watching 
every motion of the bird with eager eyes and trem- 
bling jaws. " Shucks ! it 's the cat ! " Jincy said. 
" I know 'd somethin' was wrong." 

I enjoyed the spectacle immensely and treasured 
the incident in my mind. It gave me a new and 
higher opinion of Jincy. He begged to be excused 



192 STSTER JANE. 

from returning into the house, on the ground that 
he did n't want to wear his welcome out. So we 
begged him to call again whenever he felt in the 
humor, and he went away after formally shaking 
hands with each one, even the baby. 



XIV. 

THE colonel's wife. 

As I gradually learned the story of Mandy Sat- 
terlee's girlhood and young womanhood, gathering 
it from her own remarks and from occasional con- 
versations with sister Jane, the more deeply I 
sympathized with her. No reparation that she 
could make so far as the world was concerned 
would place her on the level from which she had 
fallen. Though this was a heairy penalty to pay, 
my impression is that she never questioned the 
justice of the social verdict that imposes such a 
penalty. I sometimes reflected on the seeming 
paradox that repentance could restore such a sin- 
ner to the favor of heaven, but not to the forgive- 
ness of society and the world. The gates of heaven 
stand ready to fly open before the most abject, the 
most miserable, the most woeful of those who vio- 
late the laws that were thundered from the heights 
of Sinai if they come repenting ; but the laws of 
the world are more inflexible where a weak woman 
is concerned. To protest against this were worse 
than foolish ; what these laws are they have been, 
and so they will remain. Whether they have be- 
come a part of the social order as the result of in- 



194 SIST£1{ JANE. 

stincfc or reason, 't were bootless to inquire. As 
they stand now, so they would stand at the end of 
all discussion. The most that can be done — per- 
haps all that should be done — by those whose 
humanity is inclined to resent the sweeping and 
implacable verdict that society renders against err- 
ing womankind, is to mitigate as far as possible, in 
special cases, the anguish of those who (as it were) 
have taken so wild and desperate leap in the dark, 
and who have turned again toward the light, bear- 
ing the heavy burden of repentance. 

That Mandy Satterlee felt and understood the 
source and nature of my sympathy (as she did 
that of sister Jane's) I was sure. I was sure, too, 
that she gathered strength from the fact — strength 
that she stood sorely in need of. In a thousand 
ways, none of them obtrusive, she showed her ap- 
preciation and gratitude. It is curious, too, how 
one small spark of sympathy will kindle into a 
flame of charity. If we had shut our door on 
Mandy Satterlee and left her to perish in the cold, 
our conduct would have met the approval of many 
Christians who mistake their emotions for piety. 
If we had taken her in, cared for her until the 
storm was over, and then set her adrift on the 
world, after discovering the source of her despair, 
the whole community would have applauded and 
magnified the righteousness of our judgment. In- 
stead of this, sister Jane, with my hearty approval, 
and with full knowledge of the step she was tak- 
ing, had made Mandy Satterlee an inmate of our 



THE COLONEL'S WIFE. 195 

small household. This naturally excited some 
gossip, and perhaps severer criticism than ever 
came to our ears. But, strange to say, in course 
of time the community came to share in some de- 
gree the sympathy which we felt and manifested 
toward Mandy Satterlfee. This was due to the 
fact that Mandy, in her daily walk, in her comings 
and her goings, more than justified the humane 
impulse that made our little home her harbor. It 
was repentance that won from the Lord of all the 
forgiveness that made the life of Mary of Magdala 
beautiful, and the repentance of Mandy Satterlee 
was no less sincere. That much we knew, and in 
time the village knew it. 

I hope that this was due to our example, and 
yet it may have been partly due to the attitude of 
Mrs. Bullard, Mary's mother, whose seclusion was 
regarded by a majority of the women in the com- 
munity as exclusiveness. They criticised her for 
it, attributing it to pride, but secretly looked up to 
her as a social model, her family being of the best 
and her fortune an unusually comfortable one. 
Now it happened that Mrs. Bullard (" Mrs. Colo- 
nel Bullard," the village called her) had appar- 
ently taken a great fancy to Mandy Satterlee, and 
never came slipping through the garden to see 
sister Jane (arrayed as if she were going to a 
party) but she asked after our charge, and some- 
times hunted through the house until she found 
her. I observed that Mandy always disappeared 
when the Colonel's wife whisked in at the door. 



196 SISTES JANE. 

Whether she stood in awe of the lady's fine jewels, 
or of the fact that she was very rich, or that she 
belonged to what the common people called the 
aristocracy, or whether she doubted Mrs. Bullard's 
sympathy, or was overwhelmed by her individual- 
ity, I never knew nor had occasion to inquire. 
But it is certain that the young woman always met 
the lady with extreme embarrassment. Avoiding 
her whenever possible, Mandy always maintained 
in Mrs. BuUard's presence a reserve that bordered 
on suUenness, and was dumb but for the few awk- 
ward monosyllables that could be wrung from her. 
But this made no difference in Mrs. Bullard's atti- 
tude. If she noticed Mandy's embarrassment at 
all she no doubt interpreted it as a tribute to her 
position in the small world of the village. 

If the lady was familiar with Mandy's history, 
she got no inkling of it from sister Jane. Yet she 
must have heard or suspected the truth, for I often 
noticed that she was more gracious and conde- 
scending to the young woman than to many who 
were more nearly her equals in family and fortune. 
Delicate as she was, the Colonel's wife had dig- 
nity, and to spare. She was accomplished, too, 
and could make herself agreeable. There were 
moments, indeed, when she was a most charming 
woman, and at such times she reminded me of 
Mary. 

On one occasion, Colonel Cephas Bullard being 
away, I found it necessary to consult her about 
some business for a client of mine. I found her 



THE COLONEL'S WIFE. 197 

cold, barely polite, cautious, calculating, and 
slirewd. When the business was concluded, — or, 
rather, when the talk about it came to an end, for 
she would or could do nothing to satisfy my client 
— she offered me a glass of wine, sang a little song 
for me at the harp (which I had heard Mary do 
better), and made herself so thoroughly agreeable 
that I carried away a better impression of her than 
I had entertained before. And yet somehow I felt 
that I had been played with. Either she had be- 
trayed her true character in discussing a business 
question, with which she showed unexpected famil- 
iarity, or she had assumed it for the purpose of 
baffling me. The incident gave me, indeed, a re- 
spect for her ability that I had never had, but it 
also gave me fresh reasons for doubting her sincer- 
ity. It was nothing to me whether or no she was 
sincere, but the less reason we have for mistrusting 
people, the more comfortable we feel in their pre- 
sence. 

But, as I have said, Mrs. BuUard was singularly 
gracious to Mandy Satterlee. When twilight be- 
gan to deepen into dusk, it was nothing unusual to 
hear a rustle in the hall, and to see the Colonel's 
wife whisk in at the door, always pale, always com- 
posed, and yet as nimble and as light in her move- 
ments as a child. And she always had some ex- 
cuse for her appearance. She wanted to see sister 
Jane about this, that, or the other, but always 
about something that was of no importance what- 
ever. If Mary chanced to be talking with sister 



198 SISTER JANE. 

Jane, then Mrs. BuUard had come for Mary. If 
Mary was at home, then her mother had come be- 
cause of that fact ; or she had slipped away to take 
a little airing, or because the Colonel had company. 
It is enough to make one dizzy to recall the changes 
she rung in order to impress us with the idea that 
her visits were either urgent or accidental. On 
one occasion I heard sister Jane say to her some- 
what sarcastically : — 

" Well, Fanny, some day when you have n't got 
anything to trouble you, just pick up and come 
because you 've a mind to. It would look a heap 
better, and you 'd feel lots more comfortable. I 
would, I know." 

" Oh, I would dearly love to come, Jane," re- 
plied the Colonel's wife, "but with such a large 
house to look after, and some one always calling 
for the keys to get something out or to put some- 
thing away, it is impossible. The strain is terri- 
ble, Jane." 

" It must be," rejoined sister Jane, " 'specially 
when you ain't got more than six dozen fat and 
good-for-nothing niggers to look after your prem- 
ises for you." 

" Well, you know how Colonel BuUard is, Jane," 
said the lady. " He will have a yardful of ser- 
vants, three or four in the house, and more on the 
lot. He thinks they will be a help to me, but 
they are hardly any help at all. I only have so 
many more to look after. But if I complain he 
will be sure to imagine that I don't appreciate his 



THE COLONEL'S WIFE. 199 

thoughtfulness, though I am just as grateful as I 
can be. You know how men are, Jane." 

" No, I don't, and I 'mglad I don't," sister Jane 
responded with emphasis. " I know jest enough 
about 'em not to want to know any more." 

" Why, here 's Mr. William," said the Colonel's 
wife, waving her white and jeweled hand in my 
direction. " I 'm sure he ought to give you a 
favorable opinion of the lords of creation." She 
made a queer, coquettish little gesture, as she 
spoke. 

" I don't count William among 'em," remarked 
sister Jane. " More than that, I 've had the rais- 
ing of him. William and the cat know mighty 
well when to get out of the way of my broom- 
handle." 

While she was talking, the Colonel's wife stood 
close to sister Jane in an attitude almost affection- 
ate, touching her lightly on the arm with one hand, 
the other being free to gesture, or to play with a 
corner of the wide lace that the Colonel's wife 
always wore over her bosom. Such would have 
been her attitude with Mandy Satterlee, but Mandy 
invariably managed to remain out of reach of the 
lady's hand. 

The Colonel's wife was always beautifully, even 
daintily, dressed, reminding me of pictures I had 
seen. Her hair was very fine, having the yellow- 
gleam of amber about it, and she wore it in curls 
that were caught behind her ears and hung on the 
back of her neck and shoulders with fine effect. 



200 SISTER JANE. 

On her head she wore a square of rich lace that 
was wide enough to resemble a matron's cap, but 
was caught up at one corner with a bow of pink 
or pale blue ribbon, which gave it a jaunty and 
picturesque effect. Pink and pale blue were the 
colors of the frocks she wore, and though I knew 
not the names of the stuffs they were fashioned 
from, I judged by their lustre and by their silken 
rustle that they were rich and costly fabrics. 

It was said when her little boy disappeared so 
mysteriously, that the Colonel's wife was on the 
border of distraction. I never doubted this, and 
for that reason it was something of a shock to me 
when she came whisking through the garden some 
time afterwards, her pink frock gleaming in the 
dusk and her blue ribbons fluttering in the air. 
It was something of a shock, but common sense 
prevented me from rendering a harsh judgment 
against her. The sombre habiliments that grief 
chooses to employ as its signal were never much to 
my taste, making (as it were) too much of an out- 
ward show. But as these are matters to be settled 
by individual taste or preference, I felt 't would ill 
become me to criticise the one extreme or the 
other. Every heart knoweth its own sorrow, and 
what one may desire to parade another may strive 
to conceal. 

There were lines of trouble and suffering in the 
lady's face which all her vivacity, natural or as- 
sumed, could not hide ; and these added to her 
seclusion ought to have told the whole story. But 



THE COLONEL'S WIFE. 201 

there were moments when I doubted all these evi- 
dences, and when my sympathy was somewhat 
repelled. I had vague suspicions that refused to 
frame themselves in intelligible thoughts. I felt, 
in some mysterious way, that the Colonel's wife 
regarded me with contempt ; and I was almost sure 
she knew I doubted her sincerity. Yet with all 
this, I admitted to myself that possibly I was un- 
just to her. As for her dress, I could understand 
how that might be a passion with her, her one 
source of recreation and enjoyment. 

It was certain that she did not wear her rich 
fabrics for the sake of display, for she went no- 
where. I knew from the gossip of the negroes that 
she would spend an entire afternoon before her 
mirror, lighting a candle to enable her to see how 
to give herself the last touches that tell of perfec- 
tion. This done she would whisk through the 
garden, spend half an hour with sister Jane, whisk 
back again, retire to her room, and have her even- 
ing meal sent to her. 

Her daughter Mary resembled her in nothing 
except daintiness of dress. But where the mother 
chose colors, the daughter preferred contrasts, 
whereby no single color was left as a mark for the 
eye, but harmonized with its surroundings, as in a 
fine painting. The Colonel's wife was fond of 
finery and of the frills and furbelows that the fem- 
inine hand knows so well how to arrange. They 
were all in good taste, too, — all possessing the 
quality of daintiness. But the effect was not so 



'202 SISTER JANE. 

fresh and wholesome, and not nearly so harmonious, 
as her daughter's refined simplicity of dress. 

The contrast between them must have been 
apparent to the most casual observer who chanced 
to see them together. It was not by any means 
confined to the choice and arrangement of the ap- 
parel they wore, but was to be seen in their man- 
ner and attitude. The mother was airy, almost 
frisky, and had some curious tricks of face and 
hand such as belong to play-acting women who are 
showing how cleverly they can assume a part. Her 
eyes evaded yours, however constantly they might 
rest on your face, and she insisted on conversing 
on the most frivolous topics, though I knew she 
was a woman of uncommon ability. Mary, on the 
other hand, except on rare occasions, was repose it- 
self. Her lustrous eyes were steady as twin stars 
when they looked at you, and sincerity and inno- 
cence shone in them. Whenever she lifted her 
hand in gesture (the most beautiful hand I have 
ever seen) it seemed to illuminate and make more 
effective whatever she was saying. She was viva- 
cious — sometimes even prankish ; but behind it 
all was sincerity, the touchstone. You knew she 
was not playing a part, or taking your measure, or 
trying to deceive you ; but that she was true to her 
own innocent nature and disposition. 

By some means, I knew not how, ,1 conceived the 
idea that there was a measure of secret antagonism 
on the part of the mother toward the daughter. The 
idea could not have grown out of the differences of 



THE COLONEL'S WIFE. 203 

character and temperament that lay between them, 
for I knew well that opposite natures are almost 
invariably attracted to one another. No ; it was 
some sign or symptom that the mother manifested 
— a sudden, an unexpected and a momentary lift- 
ing of the veil (if I may say so), that surprised 
me into the suspicion that this fine lady was play- 
ing the part of a mother, as she seemed to be play- 
ing other parts. Perhaps the suggestion forced 
itself upon me in too downright a fashion, but I was 
ever awkward at splitting hairs, even in an argu- 
ment in the court-house. I cannot recall, even to 
my own mind, save in a blurred and indistinct 
way, the sign or symptom that stirred my suspi- 
cions to activity ; but, whatever it was, it made on 
me a deep and a lasting impression. 

I said a while ago that it was nothing to me 
whether or no the Colonel's wife was sincere. 
Perhaps that is too flat a statement. There were, 
indeed, many reasons why I was interested in 
studying her character and in trying to get at the 
heart of the mystery that she presented to my im- 
agination. For one thing, it was ever my habit to 
study human nature in the persons of my acquaint- 
ances to measure their motives by their actions 
and to weigh them against what they were, what 
they pretended to be, and what they ought to 
have been. Rightly pursued, this is no mean 
diversion. Through knowing others I sought to 
know myself — to separate my outward self from 
my true self. I found that the more I studied 



204 SISTER JANE. 

human nature in others the more likely I was to 
recognize it in myself. For another thing (to return 
to the Colonel's wife), the lady was Mary's mother, 
and it pleased me to try to discern in the mother 
some mark on which I could lay my finger and say, 
" Heredity has transmitted this to the daughter." 
But there were few such marks, and no wonder. 
Mary was so truly her own true self — as original 
in her mind as she was unique in her beauty — 
that my studies in this direction came to naught. 
But I never wholly gave them up while opportunity 
for comparison remained. 

Colonel BuUard had not married early in life. 
He was next to the youngest of several sons, who 
as they reached their majority drifted away from 
the parental roof and went west, some to Alabama, 
and some to the rich Mississippi bottoms, each car- 
rying with him (in the shape of negroes, horses, 
mules, and wagons) a portion of the family estate, 
which was a large one. But when the Colonel came 
of age, he elected to remain on the big plantation, 
that stretched up and down the Oconee River to 
the extent of several thousand acres. He had two 
good reasons for this, as I have heard said : his 
father was growing old and feeble (his mother 
being already dead), and his younger brother was 
too young to take charge of the business of the 
estate. This younger brother was but fifteen, and 
away at college, according to Mrs. Beshears (who 
kindly furnished me all the facts that lay beyond 
my memory and experience), when Cephas BuUard 



THE COLONEL'S WIFE. 205 

reached the years of manhood. So that the latter 
had no choice but to remain on the plantation and 
take control of affairs, which, as may be supposed, 
he already had well in hand. 

By the time Clarence Bullard, the youngest 
brother, had reached the age of seventeen, the 
father died, and Cephas Bullard applied in due 
form for letters of administration on the estate, 
and was appointed guardian of the minor brother. 
After the usual course, the business of the estate 
was finally wound up; the elder brothers came 
forward again and expressed their satisfaction at 
the way matters had been managed ; each received 
his fair portion, if any portion was still due ; and 
Cephas Bullard was relieved of the duties and 
responsibilities of administrator. He retained the 
home place and a large part of the plantation, and 
was still the guardian of Clarence Bullard. 

Now, when Clarence returned home from college 
to attend his father's funeral, he remained for sev- 
eral weeks, and it soon became bruited about that 
he had learned more about drinking, gambling, 
and cock-fighting than was usually to be imbibed 
from a course in the classics. Public opinion, 
hearing of some of his frolics and other escapades, 
came promptly to the conclusion that Clarence was 
as reckless a blade as the county had ever har- 
bored. There was also a great deal of wonderment 
expressed, for the boy was handsome and clever, 
and seemed to be well disposed. Mrs. Beshears's 
memory was to the effect that he was as pretty as 



206 SISTER JANE. 

a picture, with black, curling hair, fine eyes, a 
beautifully shaped mouth and chin. Many young 
ladies were enamored of him in spite of his reck- 
lessness. 

He returned to college, but the taste of freedom 
he had had was too much for him. He grew rebel- 
lious, and the authorities expelled him in sheer self- 
defense. He came home again, caring (it is said) 
as little for his disgrace as possible. For a period 
of several months he kept the old people groaning 
and the young ladies blushing over the reports of 
his deviltry. And evil is an element of such vig- 
orous constitution, that rumors of his wild exploits 
still remained current after the man himself had 
disappeared and was all but forgotten. It was 
only necessary to set the old people's tongues to 
wagging, and Clarence Bullard and his gray mare 
went tearing through the country again. Time's 
perspective has such a softening influence on cold 
facts, that he lived in my mind as the most roman- 
tic rascal I had ever heard of outside the lids of 
my books. 

But he finally disappeared and was seen no 
more, — whereupon gossip, that must needs have 
many dainty giblets of scandal to stimulate its 
digestion, began to announce in an authoritative 
way that there had been a stormy scene betwixt 
Clarence and Cephas, and that the elder brother 
had driven the other from beneath his father's roof 
without a penny. A great many other things wer6 
said (as I have been told), some sensational and 



THE COLONEL'S WIFE. 207 

all scandalous. But these things are not at all to 
the purpose of this narrative. 

Cephas BuUard remained on his plantation, 
looked carefully after his interests, and thrived. 
He devoted himself so closely to his business that 
his wealth grew apace. By the time he was thirty, 
he had made as much money as his father had 
been able to make after years of hard labor. By 
that time, too, he came to be known as the bach- 
elor planter, and he showed no more disposition to 
marry at that age than he had shown at twenty. 
He set up a grist-mill on his place, and invested in 
a wool-carding machine. He raised his own mules 
and horses, and they were fine ones. He made his 
own corn, meat, and all his plantation supplies ex- 
cept the clothing necessary for his negroes. He 
bought shoes, cloth, hats, and blankets from the 
wholesale houses. By the time he was thirty-five 
he had formed the habit of going north every year, 
for the purpose of laying in these supplies. 

It was on one of these trips (and while the stage- 
coach was journeying through Virginia) that he 
met the lady who became his wife, and she herself 
is the authority for the facts concerning that epi- 
sode. I heard her tell them to sister Jane with 
many dainty gestures, and in a manner not with- 
out suggestions of humor. Her voice was soft, 
low, and well modulated, and she made it more 
effective by the air of vivacity I have tried to de- 
scribe. 

She was the daughter of Cecil Brandon of Bran- 



208 SISTER JANE. 

don-on-the-James (she pronounced it Brondon-on- 
the-Jeeras), and must have been a very lively young 
lady according to her own account, — fond of horses, 
dogs, and of going to the play when the players 
strolled to Kichmond. 

" I was nothing but a child, Jane — only seven- 
teen. Just think of that, — positively a mere 
child. I can see it all now, but then I thought I 
was a grown lady. That was my father's fault. 
You have heard of Cecil Brandon, of Brandon-on- 
the-Jeems. The family is older than the history 
of England. He was the best man that ever lived, 
Jane — a perfect gentleman. But he was like aU 
gentlemen. For months — yes, months, Jane — 
he 'd allow me to have my own way, never cross- 
ing me in anything, and then all of a sudden — 
p-r-r-t," — she made a sharp chirping sound with 
her lips — " his temper would be gone, and peace 
would take wings and fly from the place. At such 
times he forbade my most innocent amusements. 
He was a man, Jane, and you know a man does n't 
know when -to be rough and when to be tender. 
Why, if I were a man, I 'd be mean and cruel 
sometimes, but always at the right time." 

The Colonel's wife laughed as she said this, and 
her eyes sparkled almost as brightly as the jewels 
that flashed on her fingers. 

The upshot of it was that once, when Cecil 
Brandon, of Brandon-on-the-James, was in one of 
his tantrums, Fanny Brandon mounted her horse, 
rode to Richmond to the house of a kinsman, and 



TBE COLONEL'S WIFE. 209 

sat out the play that night in borrowed finery. 
Her father concluded that this prank was part of 
a disposition that should be tamed, whereupon he 
had his daughter's trunk packed, bundled her in 
the carriage, got in himself, and set out on a jour- 
ney to Washington, intending to take Fanny to a 
convent school in Baltimore. 

" Think of that, Jane ! " exclaimed the Colonel's 
wife in telling of the episode. " Think of a con- 
vent for a young girl who had been used to having 
her own way except at odd times I " 

The second day the carriage broke down, and 
the break was so serious that it could be mended 
neither by Cecil Brandon nor his negro driver. 
StiU overwhelmed in the tantrums, Mr. Brandon 
determined to wait for the stage-coach, which they 
had passed on the road an hour or two before. He 
bade the negro driver to take the horses home, paid 
a farmer not far from the roadside to haul the 
wreck of the carriage away and hold it until sent 
for, hailed the stage-coach when it came along, and 
with little or no palaver, found a place for Fanny 
Brandon inside, while he rode on top. Evidently 
he was a man who did even small things in a large 
way, and before such men all difficulties are apt to 
disappear. 

An accommodating passenger surrendered his 
seat inside to pretty Fanny Brandon, and when she 
had fairly settled herself, the first man on whom 
her eyes fell was Colonel Cephas Bullard, the man 
who was to be her husband. 



'210 SISTER JANE. 

" I never dreamed of such a thing, Jane. Why, 
he was old enough to be my father ; but you see 
how it is ; we never know what Providence has in 
store for us." 

Cecil Brandon, swinging his legs from the top 
of the coach, was not long in finding congenial 
company, and was soon telling jokes and laughing 
heartily. He found, too, some gentlemen of the 
green cloth, and as few things suited him better 
than a long toddy and a brisk game of cards (the 
statement is his daughter's word for word), he 
made arrangements for a tussle with chance when 
AVashington was reached. 

Now, Fanny Brandon, though she was doubtless 
looking very pretty, was far from happy, and when 
she heard her father's jolly laugh nothing would 
do but she must fall to crying softly. This being 
, so, it was natural that Colonel Cephas BuUard, 
sitting opposite, should extend his sympathies, and 
offer his services, and make all effort to console 
her. He was so successful that Fanny Brandon 
was soon able to smile shyly at him. At the next 
stopping-place, which was a tavern where they had 
dinner, Colonel Bullard made bold to introduce 
himself to Cecil Brandon, and it turned out — 
these Virginians having a great knack of knowing 
in person or by repute everybody that is worth 
knowing — that Mr. Brandon knew of the Bul- 
lards and had a good part of their family history 
at his tongue's end. Indeed, he hinted that there 
was kinship somewhere in the background. 



THE COLONEL'S WIFE. 211 

When the travelers reached Washington, Cecil 
Brandon placed his daughter in charge of Colonel 
Cephas BuUard, begging him to see her safe to 
Baltimore and to the conventual school, and betook 
himself to the card-table. This was providential. 
Fanny Brandon had no more idea of entering the 
convent school than she had of flying, and when 
they arrived in Baltimore she turned to Colonel 
BuUard and said (I can imagine with what a 
charming air) : — 

" I '11 not go on, and I can't go back ; so what 
shall I do ? " 

Colonel Cephas was taken by surprise^ He ,was 
helpless. He could not command, and he would 
not desert. While he was considering what was 
proper to do under these unparalleled circum- 
stances, Fanny Brandon threw her head back de- 
fiantly, crying out : " I wish some respectable 
gentleman would ask me to marry him ! " 

Colonel Cephas strode up and down a few mo- 
ments, paused in front of the young lady and said 
simply : " Would you marry me ? " 

"Would I?" exclaimed Fanny Brandon, and 
placed her hand in his. 

" Don't you think that was a queer courtship, 
Jane ? " the Colonel's wife paused to inquire when 
narrating these circumstances. And sister Jane 
replied : " There 's nothing quare, Fanny, after 
you get used to it." 

They married, and Colonel Bullard, instead of 
going on to New York, went back to Washington 



212 SISTER JANE. 

■with his wife, sought out Cecil Brandon, of Bran- 
don - on - the - James, and informed him that his 
daughter Fanny Brandon had now become Mrs. 
Bullard. Mr. Brandon was paralyzed for a mo- 
ment, and it was the fall of an eyelash whether he 
would seize Colonel Cephas by the throat and cane 
him. But Brandon's humor came to the rescue. 
He burst into a roaring laugh. 

" Damn it, sir, give me your hand ! I like you ! 
I' U lay you five to one, sir, that Fan popped the 
question. Come, Fan! Didn't you?" And 
when Fan demurely admitted it, Brandon of Bran- 
don-on-the-James roared so loudly that the win- 
dows of the room rattled. 

That was the way Fanny Brandon became Mrs. 
Cephas Bullard. The Colonel brought her to his 
plantation home — a very fine place, not far from 
the Oconee. But after a time she grew tired of 
the quiet life ; whereupon the Colonel bought the 
Clopton mansion in the village, furnished it in 
grand style, and brought his young bride there. 
The society she found here was probably different 
from that she had been used to in Virginia ; it may 
have lacked refinement, as it certainly wanted gay- 
ety ; but for one reason or the other, or for all to- 
gether, young Mrs. Bullard gradually secluded 
herself. 



XV. 

JINCT IN THE NEW GROUND. 

Such was the account the Colonel's wife gave 
of her courtship and marriage. For a long time I 
suspected that, following the impulse of some 
wliimsical notion, such as frequently takes control 
of the feminine mind, she had exaggerated the af- 
fair by foreshortening some of the details that 
otherwise might have given it a perspective more 
satisfying to those who stickle over proprieties. I 
suspected that she desired to draw a strong con- 
trast between her headstrong and wayward youth 
and the soberness and discretion that marked her 
career as a matron ; or that she intended to mag- 
nify her temper and courage when a girl, in order 
to impress us with her ability to carry herself 
boldly, though she might now be delicate and 
dainty in her ways and desires. But gradually I 
came to believe that she had given the facts simply 
and with no other desire than to relieve her mind 
and to place herself on a semi-confidential footing 
with sister Jane ; for after that, and at various odd 
times, she told us more of her history, which need 
not be repeated here at any length, since the part 
she played in the small history I have set out to 



214 SISTER JANE. 

chronicle was unimportant up to almost the last 
moment, when Fanny Brandon herself stepped out 
of the past (as it were) and gave us cause for spe- 
cial wonder. But that is a matter to be told of in 
its proper place. 

Meanwhile, nature went forward in her resist- 
less course as severely as ever. The days came 
and the nights fell — the beautiful nights with 
their glittering millions of stars trooping westward 
in orderly constellations — and the days and nights 
became weeks, and the weeks became months, and 
the months brought the seasons and the seasons 
the years. I could but compare the feeble and 
fluttering troubles of humanity, its spites and dis- 
putes, its wild struggles, its deepest griefs and its 
most woeful miseries, with the solemn majesty of 
nature. I could but feel that the solitude of the 
great woods and the infinite spaces of the sky, 
though dumb, were charged with the power and 
presence of the Ever-Living One. So that when 
reflection sat with me at odd times, I was seized 
with the deepest pity for all the human atoms 
(myself among the rest) that were surging and 
struggling, grabbing and grasping, and jostling 
against one another, less orderly and purposeful 
than the procession of tiny black ants that was 
marching day and night from the garden to sister 
Jane's cupboard. 

Of all that I knew there was but one that seemed 
to employ life and the days thereof in a way that 
might be acceptable in the sight of heaven, and 



JINCT IN THE NEW GROUND. 215 

that one was Mary Bullard. Yet she made no 
pretensions to piety ; she simply went about among 
those who were poor and unhappy on missions of 
charity and benevolence, comforting those who 
were under the ban of public opinion, and carry- 
ing succor to the shabby homes of the poverty- 
stricken, always helping them without asking why 
they failed to help themselves, and carrying with 
her everywhere the blessings of all she met. 

She had a great admirer in Jincy Meadows, who 
met her once when he came to see Mandy Satterlee. 
I introduced him to Mary simply to enjoy his em- 
barrassment, but, to my surprise, he betrayed no 
shyness whatever. His self-consciousness, which 
was sometimes almost painfully apparent, disap- 
peared entirely, and he conversed with an ease and 
fluency quite remarkable. Mary was very much 
amused at his drolleries and drew him out in the 
deftest way, taking pains to put him at his ease. 

When she went away, Jincy watched her moving 
through the garden and then turned to me. 

" Shucks, squire ! " he exclaimed, " if I had n't 
'a' taken a good look at Miss Mary I 'd 'a' never 
believed that the world held the like of her — now 
that 's honest ! " 

" How is that, Jincy ? " I asked. 

" I '11 tell you, squire — if Miss Mary 'd go out in 
the woods and sorter git use to things out there, 
she 'd soon have the birds a-flyin' after her, and all 
the wil' creeturs a-foUerin' her. She 's got the 
ways, and she 'd soon git the knack." 



216 SISTER JANE. 

" I noticed, Jincy, that you did n't blush and 
stammer as I 've seen you do," I remarked. 

" I did n't have time, squire — that 's a fact. 
I looked in her eyes, and I know'd right then and 
there that she was somebody that would n't make 
fun of me, and go off thinkin' I 'm a bigger fool 'n 
I reely am. So I jest braced up and felt at home. 
Squire, did you hear her laugh — once in particu- 
lar when I told her about the. crooked tree ? It 
sounded jest like a soft note on a fiddle." 

Did I remember it? Aye, and a hundred little 
graces that escaped Jincy's eyes. Yet I was 
struck, as well as gratified, by the fact that Jincy 
had heard and noticed the rippling music of her 
laughter. In the midst of his drolleries, he was 
telling of an experience he had in clearing up a 
new ground, and why he never intended to engage 
in that kind of work again. 

" I hope you '11 believe me, ma'am," he said, 
" when I say that I went at this cle'rin' of the new 
groun' with as good a heart and disposition to take 
hold of it and git it out of the way as anybody 
could. I taken my axe and went into the timber, 
and started to begin on a saplin'. But I looked 
at the axe and then I looked at the saplin', and I 
says to myse'f, says I, ■ Jincy, what in the world is 
the use of tryin' your hand on a baby tree ? If 
you want to begin right, why n't you pick out a 
tree that 's got age and size on its side ? ' 

" So I swung the axe over my shoulder and went 
through the timber till I found a big fine tree. I 



JINCY IN TEE NEW GROUND. 217 

tell you what, she was a whopper. It looked like 
a squirrel would have to take a runnin' start and 
climb a quarter of a mile before he got to the top, 
because there wa'n't narry a limb half way where 
he could rest. 'T was all body from root to branch, 
and no branch till you got to the top. 

" I went up and laid my hand on it, and then I 
stepped back and raised the axe, but before I let 
the lick fall, a thought struck me. I lowered the 
axe and walked round the pine. Says I to myse'f, 
says I, ' Jincy, here 's a tree what is a tree. May- 
be it 's upwards of a thousand years old, and ain't 
grown yit ; and if 't ain't, what a pity to cut it 
down in the bloom of youth,' says I. So I walked 
around the pine ag'in — it was a whopper, ma'am — 
and I says, says I, ' Jincy, here 's a pine and a big 
one. It would n't make enough lumber to build a 
court-house, nor enough timber to build a bridge,' 
says I, 'and yit, if aU the people of all the United 
States was to meet in one big convention and pass 
resolutions, and throw in more money than seve'm 
hunder'd steers could pull, they could n't have this 
pine put back after it 's cut down. The harrycanes 
ain't hurt it and the thunder ain't teched it, and 
now here 's poor little Jincy Meadows, more 'n half 
a fool, and yit not half a man, a-standing round 
and flourishing his axe and gittin' ready to cut it 
down,' says I. 

"I drapped my axe and shuck my head, ma'am, 
and went on through the timber s'arching for an- 
other place to begin cleanin' up the new groun'. 



218 SISTER JANE. 

I had n't gone so mighty fur when I come to a 
clean lookin' hickory ; so I ups and I says, • Jincy, 
here 's your chance. If you ever speck to make 
any big name for cleanin' up new groun's, you 've 
got to make a beginnin' some'rs, and right now 's 
the time, and this here 's the place. This hickory 
is tough, and by the time you git it down you 'U be 
warm enough for to go right ahead and cut 'em 
down as you come to 'em.' I swung my axe 
aroun' my head a time or two to feel of the heft, 
and I was jest about to make a start, when I heard 
a fuss up in the tree, and here come a little gray 
squirrel with a hickory nut in his mouth. He was 
comin' right down the body of the tree, but when 
he seen me he stopped and give his bushy tail a 
flirt or two as much as to say, 'Hello, Jincy! 
what 's up now ? ' Then he got on a limb and sot 
up and looked at me as cunnin' as you please. I 
taken my hat off to Little Gray, and says, says I, 
' Excuse me, mister, if you please ! I was jest 
about to up and knock down your hickory nut 
orchard, and I 'm mighty glad you spoke when you 
did. I would n't trespass on your premises, not 
for the world ! ' says I. 

" So I ups and shoulders my axe and goes on 
through the timber arhuntin' for a place where I 
could begin the job of cleanin' up the new groun', 
for it jest had to be cleaned up. I come to a big 
poplar, and when I tapped it with the eye of the 
axe, I foimd it was holler. So I says, says I, 
' Jincy, here 's a big tree that 's outlived its in- 



JINCY IN THE NEW GROUND. 219 

nerds and 't ain't no manner account. I '11 jest up 
an' take it down,' says I. But, bless gracious, 
when I tapped on the poplar 't was the same as 
knoekin' at a door. I heard a scratchin' and a 
clawin' fuss, and then I seen the lady of the house 
stick her head out of the window. 'T wa'n't no- 
body in the world but old Miss Coon, and I know 'd 
by the way she looked that she had a whole passel 
of children in there. So I bowed politely, and 
says, says I, ' I ast your pardon, ma'am. I thought 
you lived furder up the creek. I hope your fam- 
ily 's well,' says I. Old Miss Coon shuck her head 
like she did n't half believe me, or it might 'a' been 
a blue-bottle fly a-buzzin' too close to her ears. 

" But I let her house alone, and went along 
through the timber, a-huntin' for a place where I 
might begin for to clean up the new groun', be- 
cause it jest had to be cleaned up. I went along 
till I come to a young pine, an' I says, says I, 
' Jincy, here 's the very identical place I 've been 
lookin' for and this here 's the tree. It ain't too 
big, it ain't too tall, it ain't too young, and it ain't 
too old,' says I. But before I could make my ar- 
rangements for to cut it down, I heard a squallin' 
in the top, and I looked up and seen a jay-bird's 
nest. The old jay got on a limb right at me, his 
topnot a bristlin', and he give me the worst cussin' 
out I 've had since my boss run away and broke 
old Jonce Ashfield's jug of liquor. Says I, ' Hey, 
hey, Mr. Jay! Is this where you stay? Then 
I '11 go 'way.'" 



220 SISTER JANE. 

In repeating these rhymes, Jincy fitted his voice 
to the notes of the jay with remarkable effect. 
Mary laughed at this, but she took his story as 
seriously as he did, and saw deeper into it, perhaps, 
than he suspected or intended. 

" I picked up my axe," he continued, " and went 
through the timber a-huntin' for a place where I 
could begin to clean up the new groun', for it jest 
had to be cleaned up. After a while I come to a 
tree that was dead from top to bottom. It was so 
dead that there wa'n't a limb on it, and all the 
bark had drapped off. So I says to myself, says 
I, ' Now, Jincy, here you are ! Now 's your time ! 
You can't do no damage here. The new groun' 's 
got to be cleaned up, and here 's the place to be- 
gin,' says I. I shucked my coat, for the walkin' 
had sorter warmed me up, and grabbed my axe, 
but before I hit the lick, I thought maybe I 'd save 
elbow grease and jest push the old tree down. I 
give it a right smart shake and it sorter swayed 
and tottered, but jest about that time, I heard a 
big flutteration at the top, and out come a pair of 
wood-peckers. I drapped my axe and bowed. 
' You must reely excuse me, Mister Flicker,' says 
I, ' because I thought you 'd have a better house 
than this at your time of life,' says I. 

" I picked up my coat and my axe and went 
arhuntin' through the timber for a place where I 
could start to cleanin' up the new groun', because 
it had to be cleaned up — there wa'n't no two ways 
about that. I went along, keepin' a sharp eye out, 



JINCY IN THE NEW GROUND. 221 

and after a while I come across the identical tree 
I had been a-lookin' for. It was a stunted black- 
jack. It had started to grow up, and then it had 
started down ag'in. Then it went back and grow'd 
out to'rds the east, and then it grow'd back to'ards 
the west — this-away, that-away and ever' which- 
away. It had as many elbows as the Baptizin' 
creek, and as many twists as a gin screw. So I 
says, says I, ' Howdy, black-jack ! I '11 jest start 
with you.' And I did. I drapped my coat on the 
groun', and had n't hit a dozen licks with the axe 
before down came the black-jack. And no sooner 
had I saw what I done than I was sorry." 

" Sorry ! " exclaimed sister Jane. " What for, 
Jincy ? " 

" Well 'm," replied Jincy, with just the faintest 
shadow of a smile showing in the corner of his 
mouth, " that black-jack was so crooked that it 
could n't lay still. By the time it got fairly settled 
one way, it 'd wobble and turn over. It wobbled 
sideways an roun' and roun' ; it wobbled a piece 
of the way up hill, and then turned and wobbled 
down. It got a kind of a runnin' start when it 
headed down hill, and could n't stop itself. Old 
Molly Cotton-Tail was a-settin' under a bush nigh 
the edge of the thicket, jest as comfortable as you 
please. She heard the black-jack a-coraing in the 
nick of time, and if she had n't made a break when 
she did, she 'd 'a' been run over and crippled. She 
was a skeered rabbit, certain and shore — and the 
worst of it is, she got the idee that Jincy was after 



222 SISTER JANE. 

her, and 'twas the longest after that before she 'd 
set still and le' me scratch her behind her ears. 

" The black-jack tried to wobble back where it 
lived, but the slope was too steep, and it went on 
wobbling down the branch. A passel of hogs 
feedin' down there seen it a-comin' and went 
through the woods a-humpin' and a-snortin.' The 
hogs skeer'd a drove of cattle, and the cattle broke 
and run down a lane, and skeer'd old Miss Favers's 
yoke of steers, and the steers skeer'd a plough 
mule, and the plough mule broke loose and run 
home and skeer'd the old speckled hen off her nest." 

" What became of the black-jack? " I inquired. 

" You are too much for me, squire," replied 
Jincy. " I reckon it 's a wobbling yit if 't ain't 
got caught in a crack of the fence. I left them 
diggin's.' I says to myself, says I, ' Jincy, you ain't 
got much sense, but you 've got sense enough to 
know that you ain't much of a hand to clean up 
new groun',' says I ; and then I lit out and went 
home." 

" That 's Jincy all over," remarked Mandy smil- 
ing. 

I could see that Mary enjoyed Jincy's narrative 
of his adventures very much, and that she appre- 
ciated the humane motive that ran through it like 
a thread of gold. Jincy saw it, too, and that is why 
he made the remark that has been quoted already : 

" Shucks, squire ! if I had n't 'a' taken a good 
look at Miss Mary, I 'd 'a' never believed that the 
world held the like of her — now that 's honest." 



XVI. 

A PERIOD OF CALM. 

There are periods of quiet that are difficult to 
describe, especially in a simple chronicle that 
makes no claim to go beyond the surface of events. 
For three, four, — yes, five — years the village, 
the people, and especially our little household saw 
few changes worth noting. So far as events are 
concerned we were becalmed. It would be an 
easy matter, if what is here written were a mere 
piece of fiction, to invent a succession of episodes 
to add interest to the narrative. I have in my 
mind now a half dozen scenes that are admirably 
fitted to do duty here. Or I might employ some 
such formula as I have met with in the lighter 
books — " Several years have now elapsed." 
Nevertheless, I know that during this period of 
calm the strangest events were slowly taking shape 
and growing gradually toward culmination. The 
years of quiet that are so flippantly disposed of in 
light pieces of fiction are frequently the most im- 
portant of all in real life. Out of such periods 
Fortune comes with its favors, or Fate (as some 
say) with its sword. 

It was so now. Colonel Bullard grew visibly 



224 SISTER JANE. 

older, Mary more beautiful, and the Colonel's wife 
more restless, as it seemed to me, whisking through 
the dark garden between sunset and dark like a 
pink and white moth. Mrs. Beshears remained 
vigorous enough to continue her visits, and her 
two sisters Miss Polly and Miss Becky seemed to 
be no feebler in mind and body than they had been 
in some years. Sister Jane appeared as young as 
ever to my eyes, but my mirror told me that a man 
is not as young at forty-odd as he is at thirty-five. 
Mandy Satterlee was cheerful, but not gay — and 
I often thought that her cheerfulness sprang from 
her mother-love for her boy, who had grown to be 
a fat and saucy rascal of nearly six years. Jincy 
Meadows came to see Mandy regularly every 
Saturday, and it was plain to all eyes, except 
Mandy's, that he was desperately in love with her. 
As for Mandy, she said over and often that love 
was not for such as she, and though she laughed 
when she said it, her voice was charged with mel- 
ancholy. 

It has been said that Mrs. Beshears remained 
vigorous. Yet she was growing older and she felt 
it and knew it, for one day she came into the 
village and asked me to write her will. Its terms 
were in keeping with her peculiarities. First and 
foremost, her share of the property, land and 
negroes, was to go to her two sisters to be held 
for their use and benefit, should she die first — 
with this exception, that the home place, which was 
hers, was to go to Mandy Satterlee, her heirs and 



A PERIOD OF CALM. 225 

assigns, provided Mandy would agree to take 
charge of the two sisters and administer faithfully 
to their wants. At the death of the two sisters, 
the home place and one hundred acres of land were 
to be Mandy Satterlee's portion. In the course of 
the will Mrs. Beshears expressed a desire that, at 
the death of her two sisters, the negroes should be 
given their freedom, and that the portion of real 
estate not otherwise devised should be sold for the 
purpose of transporting them to a free state. I 
saw a great many complications in this, should any 
claimants to the estate turn up, and so advised 
Mrs. Beshears ; but her blunt reply was that if I 
was n't lawyer enough to draw her own will the 
way she wanted it, she 'd " go to somebody else 
and maybe have the job done better." So I drew 
the will the best I could, and had it witnessed by 
men of property and standing. Mrs. Beshears 
was as impatient of these formalities as she was of 
the legal terms, technicalities, and circumlocutions, 
which indeed are whimsical enough even to those 
who employ them. But she was satisfied when the 
matter had been concluded, and seemed to feel 
better. 

I was surprised that she should leave so substan- 
tial an evidence of her regard for Mandy Satter- 
lee, having never made any special manifestation 
of it so far as her actions were concerned ; and I 
took occasion to make a remark to that effect. 

" Well, you know, WiUiam, folks is selfish to the 
last. If I could take wi' me when I die what little 



226 SISTER JANE. 

I 've got, I reckon I 'd hold onto it, though the 
Lord knows it 's been enough trouble to me in this 
world, — let 'lone the next. But I can't take it 
wi' me, an' so I jest give it to Mandy Satterlee 
to git her to take keer of them two ol' babies of 
mine. Somebody 's got to do it, an' I reckon 
Mandy '11 treat 'em jest as good as anybody else, 
maybe better, specially when she 's paid well to 
do it." 

" But suppose they die first ? " I suggested. 
" It is to be expected. In the course of nature 
you ought to outlive Miss Polly and Miss Becky 
many years." 

" It 's aU guess-work, "William. Natur' has its 
course as you say ; but I 've know'd it to take 
short-cuts, an' maybe that 's the way it '11 do now. 
Anyhow, I 've made up my mind to pick up an' 
go to church next Sunday. I hope I won't 
skeer the natives." 

Mrs. Beshears was not in the habit of going to 
church, and her statement caused me to open my 
eyes a little wider. She must have seen this, for 
she laughed and said : — 

" Don't git skeer'd, "William. If I go I '11 try 
to behave myself, an' you nee' n't cut your eye at 
me if you see me there. Jimmy DannieUy 's goin' 
to preach, they say, an' I want to hear him. I use 
to know Jimmy when he was a rip-roarin' sinner. 
Why, he use to go 'roun' the country a^cussin' like 
a sailor, an' a-bellerin' like a brindle bull; but 
now they tell me that he preaches jest as hard as 



A PERIOD OF CALM. 227 

he use to cuss, an' if that 's so, I want to hear him. 
So when you hear me a-thumpin' up the aisle, 
don't turn 'roun', bekaze I won't be much to look 
at. If Jimmy 's in the pulpit when I go in, I 
hope he won't think I 'm mockin' him, because my 
stick makes as much fuss as his wooden leg." 

Uncle Jimmy Dannielly was the most noted 
preacher we had in middle Georgia. He was a 
revivalist, and although he was a Methodist, his 
preaching was acceptable to the members of all 
denominations — the Baptists and Presbyterians 
— that had found a foothold among the people. 
The reason of this was that Uncle Jimmy was 
never known to preach what is called a doctrinal 
sermon. He did not concern himself with creeds, 
but preached the religion that he found in the 
New Testament. He was a very earnest man, and 
his fervor gave rise to a great many eccentricities. 
Sprung from the common people, he used the lan- 
guage of the common people, and I never knew 
how fluent, flexible, and picturesque every-day 
English was until I heard Uncle Jimmy preach. 
Perhaps his manner — his earnestness — had some- 
thing to do with it ; but there was more in the 
matter, for a mere attitude of the mind cannot 
give potency to language, nor can fervor, nor ex- 
altation, nor even a great thought, always sum- 
mon the apt and illuminating word, as I have long 
ago found out to my sorrow. 

It was said that, on one occasion, when Uncle 
Jimmy Dannielly was preaching in a neighboring 



228 SISTEB JANE. 

town, a dandified young fellow rose in the midst 
of the sermon and went down the aisle toward the 
door, twirling a light cane in his hand. The 
preacher paused in his sermon and cried out, 
" Stop, young man ! Stop where you are and 
think ! There are no dandies in heaven with rat- 
tan canes and broadcloth breeches." The story 
goes that the young man waved his hand lightly 
and replied that there were as many dandies with 
canes in heaven as there were wooden-legged preach- 
ers. The truth of this last I doubted. Such a re- 
mark as that credited to the young man would have 
outraged public opinion, and no young man can 
afford to do that. The whole story is doubtless an 
invention, but the words attributed to Uncle Jimmy 
Dannielly were characteristic of his bluntness. 
Though in all probability he did not utter them, 
they nevertheless had the flavor of his style and 
his uncompromising methods. 

Large crowds always went to hear Uncle Jimmy 
preach, some to renew their religious faith and 
fervor, some to discover the source of his reputa- 
tion, and some (the great majority, it is to be 
feared) to be amused at his eccentricities. As it 
was in other communities, so it was in ours. On 
the Sunday morning when Uncle Jimmy was to 
j)reach in the old Union church, Sister Jane and 
myself found a large crowd present, though we had 
come early. Usually the men sat on one side and 
the women on the other, but on this particular oc- 
casion the custom vanished before the anxiety of 



A PERIOD OF CALM. 229 

the people to see and hear the preacher. I found 
myself, therefore, with a good many other men, sit- 
ting in the pews usually reserved for the women. 
I was one pew behind that in which sister Jane 
sat — on the very seat, as I suddenly discovered, 
that I had sometimes occupied when a boy, not 
willingly, but in deference to the commands of sis- 
ter Jane, who, in those days long gone, made it a 
part of her duty to take me prisoner every Sunday 
morning and carry me to church whether or no. 

There, on the side of the pew, were the letters 
W. W., which many years ago I had carved with 
my barlow knife. They were as distinct as if they 
had been made but yesterdajr, and I passed my 
- fingers over them as one might do in a dream. It 
all came back to me — the beautiful singing, the 
droning prayer, the long sermon, the doxology, the 
solemn benediction. I was too tall now to lean 
my head against the back of the pew, and gradu- 
ally become oblivious to all sights and sounds ; but 
in the old days, keenly alive to my imprisonment, 
I used to sit and wish for the end until the obliv- 
ion of sleep lifted me beyond the four walls and 
out into the freedom of the woods and fields. 
Sometimes the preacher, anxious to impress some 
argument upon the minds of his hearers, would 
bring his fist down on the closed Bible with a bang 
that startled me out of dreamland. I remembered 
how I used to sit and watch the beautiful rays of 
sunshine streaming through the half-closed blinds 
of the high windows, and how I used to envy the 



230 SISTER JANE. 

birds that sang and chirped in the shrubbery of 
the old graveyard hard by. At such times a sense 
of loneliness crept over me, especially if I could 
hear the voices of children at play in the pleasant 
sunshine ; and I smiled to remember what a sense 
of isolation it gave me if a cow lowed in the green 
pastures behind the church. 

Over my head now was the same high ceiling 
that had attracted my attention, if not my admi- 
ration, in the days of my childhood. It had been 
painted to represent the sky, but the hand that 
held the brush was not the hand of an artist. Yet 
it was no doubt an ambitious piece of work. Long 
waving blurs of white represented the rims of the 
clouds, and in the blue spaces a few white splotches 
stood for the stars. The ceiling was lifted high 
above the tall pulpit and above the gallery, which 
ran around the church on the sides and on the 
end opposite the pulpit, and was supported by 
a row of tall and stately white pillars that lent a 
solemn dignity to the interior perspective, no mat- 
ter in what part of the building the observer sat. 
The height of the ceiling was effective in another 
way. However bright the sun might shine out- 
side, there was always a mysterious twilight haze 
overhead — not dark, nor even dusky, but dim. 
No matter how bright a light poured into the 
church from the windows beneath the gallery, it 
was mellowed and subdued ere it reached the ceil- 
ing. 

Looking up now I could see a bat circling over- 



A PERIOD OF CALM. 231 

head, and, as I watched, it was joined by another. 
I remembered that in the days of my youth I used 
to sit on the hard and uncomfortable seat and watch 
the bats whirling in giddy circles, sometimes close 
to the ceiling, and sometimes darting as low as the 
gallery. I used to wonder where they went when 
the church was closed and the windows shut. Some- 
times they would disappear for a moment in the 
dark space that hung grim and awful (as my child- 
ish mind had pictured it) between the gallery and 
the recess behind the belfry. Then, as if they had 
merely gone to carry a message, they would reap- 
pear almost immediately, and begin their gyra- 
tions anew, flitting about ceaselessly until slumber 
closed my eyes to their movements, or a sudden 
twitch or pinch from sister Jane's ready fingers 
caused me to turn my head, but not my mind, 
in the direction of the preacher's voice. 

Thus it came about that I rarely entered the old 
church that I did not live over again some part of 
my childish experience, and the more so now, since 
I was confronted by the crooked and unsymmetrical 
W. W., that I had managed to carve on the back 
of the pew in spite of sister Jane's watchful eye. 

While these various thoughts and reminiscences 
were tumbling over one another in my mind, the 
people continued to assemble. I saw Mary Bul- 
lard come in the door, pause on the threshold, as 
if waiting for some one, and then go down the aisle 
with modest grace, followed by her mother. Then 
came Colonel BuUard, marching along with meas- 



232 SISTER JANE. 

ured and dignified tread. Tbeir pew was to the 
right of the pulpit and very near it, so that it 
might be said of the Colonel, as it was said of an- 
other, that he had placed himseK under the drip- 
pings of the sanctuary. 

From my place I could just see the top of the 
preacher's head as he sat behind the pulpit desk, 
engaged either in reading the Bible or in silent 
prayer. He was evidently waiting for all the con- 
gregation to gather, so that there would be no noise 
or disturbance after services began. My eyes 
moved over the congregation, and finally rested on 
sister Jane, who sat bolt upright in her seat. 
There was an air of grim defiance about the set of 
her bonnet. One arm rested on the end of the 
pew, and I noticed that her turkey-tail fan, which 
she always carried with her on occasions of mo- 
ment, was swinging in the adjoining pew. I could 
see the bow of the modest ribbon by which the fan 
was attached to her wrist. I observed, too, that 
in this pew sat a little boy apparently eight or ten 
years of age. He sat very still, but I noticed that 
there was a look of interest and expectation in his 
eyes as he turned his head from side to side. His 
face was brown with the sun, but was not the less 
attractive for that. I tried to remember if I had 
ever seen him before, having no other matter to 
interest me. Failing in this, I tried to place him 
by tracing his family resemblance in his features. 
I failed here also. 

While I was idly studying the lad's face, his 



A PERIOD OF CALM. 233 

eye fell on sister Jane's turkey-tail fan. With a 
quick glance he looked from the fan to its owner. 
What he saw there must have satisfied him, for he 
reached forth his hand and began to examine the 
morocco shield which held the ends of the feathers 
together. Sister Jane felt the movements of the 
fan, saw that the boy was touching it, and drew it 
away with an impatient gesture. I regretted it in 
a moment, for the lad regarded her with some 
amazement, and then slowly moved as far away 
from her as he could get, and leaned against the 
back of the pew. Instantly a hand was laid ten- 
derly on the lad's shoulder, and he rested his cheek 
against it, appearing to take great comfort from its 
support. One of the huge pillars intervened be- 
tween the owner of the hand and my eyes. I could 
not see him no matter how I shifted my position or 
craned my neck. 

But the hand was strong and firm, and browner 
by far than the boy's face. On the third finger 
was a ring that I judged by its color and lack of 
finish to be of virgin gold. Sister Jane noticed 
the surprised expression in the lad's face and saw 
his movement away from her neighborhood. There 
was nothing petulant in the movement, nor any ex- 
pression of suUenness in the child's countenance. 
He seemed to be grieved as well as surprised, that 
he had been repulsed. Perceiving all this, sis- 
ter Jane relented, as I knew she would. Her at- 
titude became less rigidly uncompromising. She 
leaned against the end of her pew and allowed her 



234 ^ SISTER JANE. 

turkey-tall fan to fall into the position from which 
she had drawn it when she felt the touch of the 
child's hand. She even went so far as to push the 
fan a little closer to the boy than it had been be- 
fore. He saw the movement, of course, but evi- 
dently did not understand it, for he sat perfectly 
still, his hands resting in his lap, and his head 
leaning with confidence on the firm brown hand 
that lay gently on his shoulder. 

For my part I heartily regretted the episode. 
It was a small thing after all, but I knew it would 
rankle in sister Jane's tender heart for many a long 
day. I have heard her say time and again that 
but for the small worries of life a gTeat many peo- 
ple, especially women, would be happy, and I now 
felt, with a sort of pang, that she would carry with 
her the thought that she had wounded the feelings 
of this lad thoughtlessly and imnecessarily. The 
child would forget it in a jiffy, — perhaps he had 
already forgotten it, — but sister Jane would re- 
member it, though she might never refer to it. 

But my thoughts were soon diverted from this 
trifling episode. Suddenly, as though moved by a 
common impulse, the congregation, led by Colonel 
Bullard, began to sing the beautiful melody to 
which some inspired hand has set the poem begin- 
ning — 

" How tedious and tasteless the hours." 

The volume of the song filled the church from 
floor to ceiling. When it was finished, the Bap- 
tist minister, who sat in the pulpit with Uncle 



A PERIOD OF CALM. 235 

Jimmy Dannielly, rose and asked tlie people to 
join him in prayer. Some stood with bowed heads, 
others knelt on the floor, while still others sat in 
their seats and leaned their heads on the backs of 
the pews in front of them. When the prayer was 
finished, the Methodist minister, who also sat in 
the pulpit, rose and read a hymn and then gave it 
out, two lines at a time. A silence that seemed to 
be full of expectation fell on the congregation when 
the last note of the song had died away. Uncle 
Jimmy Dannielly rose slowly from the cushioned 
seat behind the desk, stepped forward with a limp, 
leaned both hands on the pulpit, and allowed his 
eyes to wander over the assembly. 



XVII. 

THE PREACHER AND THE SERMON. 

As he stood thus, the revivalist presented a 
very striking figure. His long iron-gray hair was 
combed straight back from a high forehead. His 
eyes, though sunken, were full of fire. His face 
was lean, but full of strength ; the nose was long 
and slightly curved in the middle ; the mouth was 
large and the lips thin, but not too thin to shut out 
generosity ; and the chin was massive. His dress 
was of the plainest. His coat of linsey-woolsey 
was even shabby. His waistcoat was cotton stuff 
dyed with copperas. His shirt, though white, was 
of homespun ; the collar was wide and loose ; and 
there was no sign of stock or neckerchief. When 
he began to speak, his voice was not lifted above a 
conversational tone, but it penetrated to every 
nook and corner of the church and reached every 
ear in the congregation. 

" When I last stood in this pidpit," he said, 
" Brother Collingsworth sat in that seat there." 
He pointed a long finger toward one of the front 
pews. " Right behind him was the most beautiful 
young woman these old eyes ever looked on." The 
congregation knew that he was referring to Eliza- 



THE PREACHER AND THE SERMON. 237 

beth Allen, who had been dead half a dozen years. 
"Over there" — pointing to the right — "was a 
man in the prime of life. Over there " — pointing 
to the left — " was a woman who was blessed with 
the loveliest fruits of motherhood. In the back 
of the church, against the wall, I saw a young man 
who had just reached the year of his majority. I 
saw all these and many more. I look for them to- 
day, and I fail to find them. Will some of you peo- 
ple who live here in town tell me something about 
them ? Can you give me any news of them ? 'They 
were all my friends. More than my friends," he 
went on, his voice rising a little, — " more than my 
friends. I loved them every one. They are not 
here to-day, and my heart tells me something has 
happened. What is it ? Why are they not here 
to-day ? Why do I miss them ? " 

He paused and turned to Mr. Ransom, an old 
white-haired man who sat in a chair near the pul- 
pit. 

" Brother Eansom, you were well acquainted 
with Brother Collingsworth. Where is he to- 
day?" 

The reply of Mr. Ransom was in so low a tone 
that the greater part of the congregation failed to 
hear it. But the preacher left no doubts on their 
minds. 

" In heaven ! " he cried ; " in heaven ! a place he 
had worked more than half of a long life to reach. 
Pray with me, brothers, sisters, high and low, rich 
and poor, that every man, woman, and child that 



238 SISTER JANE. 

has ever sat in this chureh or ever shall, — pray that 
they may be found in heaven with Brother Col- 
lingsworth at the last day." 

The preacher paused again and wiped his face 
with his big red pocket-handkerchief. 

"I see more changes than that," he went on. 
" I see silks and satins, and I hear them arrustling. 
I see finger-rings and breastpins a-flashing and 
arshining. Let the women move their heads ever 
so little, and I see their ear-bobs a-trembling. 
What is it all for ? To help you to worship God ? 
To help you to humble yourselves before our Lord, 
the Saviour? Oh, you women ! look at me ! Here 
you are bedecked with your finery, while I have 
scarcely a shirt to my back. Why, if I thought that 
silks and satins, and finger-rings, and ear-bobs, and 
frills and finery would help me to worship my Lord 
and make me humbler by so much as a single grain, 
I 'd go into the pulpit loaded down with them. If I 
could n't buy them, I 'd beg and borry them — I'd 
do anything but steal them — but what I 'd have 
them. Why, if it 'd help me in the sight of God, I 'd 
put bracelets on my arms, and shiny rings on my 
ankles, and bells on my toes, and feathers in my 
hair, and when I walked into a church, the children 
would scream and cry and the gals faint because 
they 'd think I was a Hottentot or a wild Injun. 
But their blessed mothers would console them and 
hush them, and say, ' Don't be afraid. He 's dressed 
up so because it helps him to praise and worship 
God.' " 



THE PREACHER AND THE SERMON. 239 

Pausing again, the preacher with a swoop of his 
hand threw open the big Bible that lay on the 
pulpit desk, and read (apparently) the first verse 
that fell under his eye : — 

" ' They which are the children of the flesh, these 
are not the children of God ; but the children of 
the promise are counted for the seed.' Don't make 
any mistake, good friends," he went on, " I 'm 
not taking any text. I don't have to hunt texts to 
preach God's word. They swarm and flutter in my 
mind. Every face before me is a living, breathing 
text, and there 's a text in every minute that 
passes, every day that closes. 

" Paul was writing to the Eomans, and quoting 
from the Old Testament. Before the atonement, 
the children of the flesh were not the children of 
God. But when our Lord gave himself up for the 
sake of sinners, and was nailed to the tree. He 
pointed the way by which every child of the flesh 
may become a child of God. He showed the world 
the road of repentance, and suffered on the cross 
that the road might be clear. We are all children 
of the flesh ; we are all little children of the world ; 
w6 are all children of God through the Lord our 
Saviour. What is there hard about a saying that 
carries a message of life to a repentant sinner ? 
You '11 hear it said on every hand that love begets 
love, that our very nature tells us to love them that 
love us. Are we dumb brutes, that when the Child 
of Bethlehem comes to us with love and mercy in 
his eyes, and words of love and mercy on his lips, 



240 SISTER JANE. 

we must harden our hearts and turn our heads 
away? 

" We are all little children of the world. All 
of us are sinful, but only a few of us are sorrow- 
ful. Why? Plough, and you'll have corns on 
your hands ; sin, and continue to sin, and your 
hearts will be covered over with callousness 
— case-hardened. Little children of the world ! 
And it needs but a lifting of the mind, and a bend- 
ing of the knee to make us the children of God. 
Children ! But what is a child without innocence. 
A monster, a deformity in the sight of God and 
man. But the world swarms with them ; the towns 
are full of them ; and they wander up and down aU 
over the land. They are right here in the sound 
of my voice ! They are looking in my face, and 
a-wondering what I 'm going to say next. 

" Well, I '11 tell you what I 'm going to say next, 
and I '11 say it so loud that the very walls '11 hear 
it and repeat it to the roof, and the roof to the 
world above. There are men and women in this 
church to-day (and I could go and put my hand 
on them) that are so deep in sin, so double-dyed 
in aU. manner of iniquity, that they are afraid to 
get down on their knees and tell God about it. 
They have hid it from men and they think they 
are hiding it from the Almighty. They hold 
their heads high, but how many weeks, how many 
days, before they will be brought low? If they 
can't fool a poor old man like me, how can they 
fool the Lord of Hosts ? 



THE PREACHER AND THE SERMON. 241 

" Little children of the world ! They are not 
children ; they are ravening wolves, pursuing the 
innocent and devouring them. And yet what a 
simple thing stands between them and a clear con- 
science ! Oh, you men and women that know I 'm 
a-talking about you, why not try repentance? 
When remorse pulls you out of sleep at the dead 
hours of night, why not mix repentance with your 
misery ? Eemorse ain't repentance. Remorse is 
nothing but fear — fear that your sins will find 
you at the wrong place and at the wrong time. 
Don't trust to remorse. But when it seizes hold of 
you — when it is tearing and gnawing your very 
vitals — drop on your knees and beg the Saviour 
to take you into the arms of his mercy and forgive- 
ness. And where you can make restitution, make 
it. And where you can make confession, make it. 
But repentance first, repentance last, and repen- 
tance all the time ! 

" And, oh, believe me ! hard and heavy as its 
burthens are, it is not too high a price to pay for 
a clean heart and a contented mind, even if these 
were all. But they are not all — they are not 
half — they are not the thousandth part of the 
blessing that repentance will bring. It will be as 
a dazzling light to show to you the unspeakable 
beauties of our Saviour's love and mercy. 

" Don't think I 'm a-talking about your neigh- 
bor. Don't think I 'm a-talking to stir up the 
feelings of the weak-minded or the tender-hearted. 
Much as the cause of Christ may need reviving in 



242 SISTER JANE. 

this town, I 've not come here to revive it. I 
ought to be miles from here to-day, but I met a 
human wreck in the public road a fortnight ago — 
oh, a wretched and a miserable wreck ! — that the 
Lord must have sent there that my eyes might see 
and my ears hear him. My promise called me away, 
but my heart brought me here. And here I am — 
not to publish, not to condemn (for who am I that 
I should sit in judgment?), but to warn, and, may- 
be, bring a few hearts to repentance." 

The preacher paused, and when he spoke again 
his voice was low and tremulous with emotion. 

" Oh, unhappy world ! where sin has power to 
smite and wound the innocent ! Oh, unhappy men 
and women that must drag their children into 
the mire of sin and disgrace ! Look at your feet ! 
You are standing by an open keg of powder. 
Soon the pitch a-dripping from passion's torch will 
kindle it, the explosion will come, and then ? Oh, 
the pity of it ! The innocent and the helpless will 
be blackened and burned by it." 

In this strain the sermon, if it could be called 
a sermon, went on. I have selected only a few 
paragraphs from rough notes made while the matter 
was fresh in my mind. But these can give no 
idea of the manner of the preacher. He had the 
gift of oratory — the magnetism that holds the 
attention and electrifies. By a movement of his 
hand or a sweep of his arm he threw a new and 
thrilling meaning into the most commonplace re- 
marks. But his magnetism was not necessary on 



THE PREACHER AND THE SERMON. 243 

this occasion to hold the minds of his hearers. 
The mysterious allusions he made to meeting a 
wretched man in the public road, and the pointed 
— almost personal — appeals he made to members 
of the congregation who were evidently known to 
him, were enough to arouse curiosity to the high- 
est pitch and hold it there. 

Some of those who went to hear the sermon ex- 
pected to be surprised or amused, while others 
hoped to be edified ; but the effect went far 
beyond surprise or amusement, and, on the vital 
point, fell far short of edification. When the 
congregation was dismissed and we came out, I 
noticed that the women, who had a habit of linger- 
ing before the church door to exchange words of 
greeting and frequently of gossip, talked in lower 
tones than usual, and some of them wore a scared 
look. Colonel Bullard and his wife entered their 
shining carriage, and were whirled away, but Mary 
joined sister Jane and myself, and together we 
walked home. Behind us I could hear the voices 
of Mrs. Roby and Mrs. Flewellen, rising in volume 
the farther they got from the church. 

" I declare er. Sister Eoby ! " exclaimed Mrs. 
Flewellen, " I 'm er all but pairlized. Er did you 
ever hear er such talk in all your er born days ? 
It 's a scandal and I er don't care who hears me 
er say it. Who er was he a-hittin' at, do you er 
reckon ? And er what is at the er bottom of it ? " 

It was impossible to catch the reply that Mrs. 
Roby made, but Mrs. Flewellen kept on talking. 



244 SISTES JANE. 

" Why, the er bare idee that anything can er 
happen in this town and er me not know nothin' 
't all about it ! Er Brother Dannielly is a good 
man — there er ain't no manner of er doubt about 
that ; er he 's a godly man ; but er somebody has 
played on er his mind. But er wouldn't it be er 
the wonder of the world if er there was something 
or other er brewing ? " 

I could but reflect on the whimsical and insub- 
stantial mind that doubted in one breath and 
believed in the next. As for Mary she never men- 
tioned the sermon except to comment on the ear- 
nestness of the preacher and the remarkable effect 
of his unstudied gestures. Sister Jane had nothing 
to say whatever, either about the sermon or the 
preacher. As we went along I saw just ahead of 
us the lad who had attracted my attention in 
church. He was clinging to the hand of a tall, 
strong-looking man who was a stranger to me — 
clinging to the man's hand and talking as seriously 
as a grown person. The man was walking slowly, 
but with a free and swinging stride that betokened 
great strength and vitality. Presently I heard 
the child say : — 

" Well, you know mighty well, Dan, that I 
would n't have hurt the fan — if it was a fan." 

I looked at sister Jane and saw that she was re- 
garding the lad with a curious expression. 

" Why, of course. Cap, / know you would n't 
have hurt the fan ; but think of the lady — she 
did n't know you would n't hurt the fan," replied 



THE PREACHER AND THE SERMON. 245 

the man in a soothing tone. " I '11 see her before 
long and ask her about it, and I '11 bet you a thrip 
against a shirt button that she '11 say she thought you 
were one of those little town boys that are always 
up to some mischief." 

" Will she say that, Dan ? " the lad asked, a 
pleasant smile hovering around his mouth, but not 
settling there. . 

" Why, of course she will. I looked at her once 
when she turned her head, and she 's got a good 
face. Did n't you see her put the fan back and 
push it towards you ? " 

"Yes, I did," replied the boy, "but I didn't 
know what she meant. I thought she knew I 
would n't touch it after she jerked it away." 

" I 'm sorry you did n't," said the man. 

"Well, why didn't you punch me with your 
thumb, Dan?" 

" Ah ! it was in church, you know," the man 
suggested. 

" That 's so," assented the lad. " Did you see 
the bats, Dan ? Did you see the big dark place 
they kept flying into ? Ugh ! " he exclaimed with 
a shiver, "I wouldn't go into that place, not for 
— not for" — 

" Not for what ? " the man asked. 

" Not for the little girl that was on the ship." 

" She said she was going to write to you," re- 
marked the man. 

" I hope she will," said the lad. 

When we came to the end of the grove of big 



246 SISTER JANE. 

oaks in which the church nestled, Mary BuUarcl, 
sister Jane, and myself crossed the street, while the 
stranger and the lad turned to the right and went 
along on the opposite side. 

"Do you know 'em, William?" sister Jane in- 
quired. 

" I never saw them before," I replied. " They 
probably came on the stagecoach yesterday after- 
noon." 

" As likely as not," sister Jane assented, and 
relapsed into silence. 

" The boy is a bright and manly-looking little 
fellow," remarked Mary with a sigh. I knew she 
was thinking of her brother. 

" Yes ; I noticed he called his father ' Dan,' " I 
said. 

" His father ! " exclaimed sister Jane. " Why, 
not a minnit ago you said you 'd never seen 'em 
before, and now here you are telling a part of their 
family history." 

" It is reasonable to suppose the man is the boy's 
father," I explained. 

" Now he 's supposing," said sister Jane. " Mary, 
keep your eye on these men." 

" Oh, I do. Miss Jane. Did you never notice 
it?" was Mary's laughing response. Sister Jane 
laughed, too, and the talk turned to matters in 
which I was not interested. I indulged in a habit 
formed long ago, of listening to Mary's voice 
(when she was talking to some one else) without, 
paying particular attention to the words her lips 
formed. 



THE PREACHER AND THE SERMON. 24:7 

During the afternoon, sister Jane was honored 
by a friendly call from Mrs. Roby and Mrs. Flew- 
ellen. Mandy Satterlee had gone to visit Mrs. 
Beshears, as she sometimes did on Sunday after- 
noons. 

" Don't git noways scared, Jane," said Mrs. 
Roby, as she and Mrs. Flewellen came in. " We 
ain't come to take the place, because I just saw 
Sister Flewellen walkin' about in her yard, a-doia' 
nothin' and a-lookin' lonesome, and so I hollas 
and says, says I, ' Sister Flewellen, supposin' we 
fling on our things and go around and see Jane,' 
says I, 'because it'll give her the all-overs,' says 
I, ' but we ain't been there in the longest, and 
maybe she can put up with us the little time we 've 
got to stay,' says I." 

" Yes, er Jane," Mrs. Flewellen assented, " she 
said them er very words ; and I says, says I, ' Don't 
you er reckon it '11 worry Jane ? ' says I, and she 
er hollas back and er says, says she, ' I er reckon it 
will, but er she '11 git over it before er Christmas,' 
says she. And er so we flung on our er things and 
come, and er here we are, and as the er twin calves 
said er to the old cow, ' Er what are you going to 
er do with us ? ' " 

" I hope you don't fit the whole tale," remarked 
sister Jane, as she shook hands with the two ladies. 

" Er how is that, Jane ? " inquired Mrs. Flew- 
ellen. 

" Why, the twin calves turned out to be bull 
yearlings," said sister Jane dryly. 



248 sjsti:r jane. 

" Now er that 's Jane all over ! " exclaimed Mrs. 
FleweUen, laughing behind her fan to hide her 
teeth. " Er did you hear that, er Sister Roby ? I 
er declare, Jane ! Yoii always er give as good as 
anybody sends — er don't she, Sister Roby ? " 

But Mrs. Roby had other fish to fry. She had 
seated herself, but instead of paying any attention 
to Mrs. Flewellen's commonplace remarks, she 
craned her neck, first on one side and then on the 
other, trying to look behind her. Then she said : — 

" I don't see Mandy Satterlee, Jane. Where 's 
she gone? She ain't here, is she? " 

" Mandy 's gone out to take the air," replied 
sister Jane. " If you 've got any message for her, 
I '11 tell her about it if I can recall it." 

" Was she at church to-day, Jane ? " 

" If she was, she run out somewhere betwixt the 
sermon and the doxology," sister Jane answered, 
" for I found dinner ready and a-waiting for me ; 
and there was nobody to cook it but Mandy." 

"Well, I do hope she didn't go, Jane," said 
Mrs. Roby, with well-affected solicitude, " because 
I know in reason you must have heard what the 
preacher said about her? " 

" Which preacher ? " inquired sister Jane with 
amazement. 

" Why, Uncle Jimmy DannieUy," replied Mrs. 
Roby in a tone less confident than before. 

Sister Jane regarded Mrs. Roby with a stare 
in which amazement, pity, and curiosity were all 
mingled. 



THE PREACHER AND THE SERMON. 249 

" Well, for the Lord's sake ! " she said after a 
while, raising her hands and allowing them to fall 
helplessly in her lap. 

" Why, you must 'a' heard him, Jane, because I 
saw you there with my own eyes, and you could n't 
'a' helped but hear him." Mrs. Eoby's voice had 
grown weak. 

" Now, Maria ! " cried sister Jane, in a tone in 
which scorn and contempt played a large part, 
" do you mean to set flat-footed in that cheer there 
and tell me that such a man as Jimmy Daunielly 
would leave bigger game and fly at that poor gal 
— and he not a-knowing her from a side of sole- 
leather ? " 

" Well, you heard what he said, Jane," Mrs. 
Eoby explained, " because your ears is as good as 
mine any day, if not better, because I ain't never 
intirely got over that risin' that busted in my 
head before I had my first baby, and I know you 
could n't 'a' kept from hearin' every word, and if 
he did n't mean Mandy Satterlee who in the round 
world could he 'a' meant, because when anybody 
talks that plain, specially in the pulpit, they 're jest 
obliged to mean somebody ; now who did he mean ? 
I wish you 'd tell me that." 

Sister Jane settled her high back-comb a little 
more firmly on her head — a favorite gesture of 
hers when patience was giving way to irritation. 
"Maria, age don't improve you one single bit," 
she said. " You ought to know mighty well from 
what you 've heard of Jimmy Dannielly that he 



250 SISTER JAXE. 

ain't the man to stumble over names. If he did n't 
call 'em out, it was n't because he was afeard, but 
because he did n't want to. He 'd just as soon 'a' 
called the name as not, every bit and grain. My 
hearing ain't as keen as it used to be, but if I 've 
got any ears at all, Jimmy Dannielly said the peo- 
ple he was talking about was right there in the 
house ; he said he could go and put his hand on 
'em ; he said they held their heads high, and that 
they would soon be brought low. That 's what he 
said. Does Mandy Satterlee hold her head high ? 
Did you ever see her strutting around these 
streets? " 

Sister Jane closed her lips firmly, as though she 
had no more to say. Mrs. Roby looked at Mrs. 
Flewellen, as if inviting assistance, but that lady 
shook her head slowly and solemnly. 

" Er he said them er very words, Sister Roby — 
er them very identical er words. I says to myself 
er at the time, says I, ' I er wonder who it is er in 
this house er that the cap fits,' er says I." 

" I believe he did say that, Jane, but the whole 
thing took me back so, that I pledge you my naked 
word that I forgot everything about what he said 
excepting that he was a-scoring somebody, I did n't 
know who, and I thought it was mighty quare if 
Mandy Satterlee was a-settin' in the back of the 
church and he was a-hittin' at her, poor thing, 
'stead of trying to lift her up, and I 'd 'a' looked 
back to see if I could see Mandy, but I know some 
of the men would 'a' thought right straight that I 
was a-lookin' at them, because you know how con- 



THE PREACHER AND THE SERMON. 251 

ceited they are, Jane, — all except William, here, 
who I look on more as a member of my own family 
than anything else, — and I says to myself, says I, 
' I '11 go over and see Jane, and find out if Maudy 
Satterlee was at church, because I know if she 
was Jane '11 be a-b'ilin' over, and no wonder,' says 
I, because what right has a preacher or anybody 
else got to attack anybody that 's a-tryin' their best 
to get along and do right, for I reely do believe 
that Mandy Satterlee is tryin' to do what 's right, 
because she could mighty easy do wrong if she 
wanted to ; and there 's another thing, Jane ; who 
was that fine-lookin' man a-settin' behind the pew 
right next to yours ; you could n't 'a' helped seein' 
him because he had his hand on a boy's shoulder 
in the pew right next to yours, and you could 'a' 
retched out and tetched him with the end of your 
fingers, — not the man, but the boy, — and I saw 
the man lookin' at you, and I says to myself, says 
I, ' Honey, if Jane could turn and see you a-starin' 
at her in that fashion she 'd make you feel like 
sinkin' through the floor,' says I." 

Mrs. Roby paused from sheer lack of breath. 

" I saw the child, but I did n't see the man until 
we came out of church, and then I saw only his 
back," replied sister Jane. " I don't know him 
from Adam's cat." 

And so the conversation ran on — a great many 
words about nothing in particular — a singular 
mixture of friendliness, hypocrisy, cant, and insin- 
cerity. The ladies went away after a while, and a 
restful silence filled the house. 



XVIII. 

A NEW BOARDER AT SISTEE JANE'S. 

The next morning, shortly after breakfast, there 
came a knock to which I responded. I was some- 
what surprised, on opening the door, to see the 
stranger whom I had noticed the day before as we 
came away from church ; and with him was the 
lad of whom mention has been made. 

" I beg pardon," said the stranger with a bow 
that stamped him at once as a man of some refine- 
ment : " I believe you take boarders here ? " 

" After a fashion," I replied, hesitating a mo- 
ment. 

" I am told it is a very pleasant fashion," he re- 
marked with a smile. 

" But you will have to see my sister," I sug- 
gested, " that is, if you " — 

" Naturally — of course," said the stranger, in- 
terrupting me with the most genial laugh imagin- 
able ; " here as everywhere the word is, ' Make way 
for the ladies ! ' May I see your sister ? " 

I invited the gentleman in, — I was sure he was 
both a gentleman and a reader of books, — placed 
a chair for him and one for the lad, and went in 
search of sister Jane. I found her somewhat flur- 



A NEW BOARDER AT SISTER JANE'S. 253 

ried over some trifling detail of housekeeping, and 
not in the best humor in the world. I stood expect- 
ant a moment waiting for her irritation to subside. 
Whereupon she exclaimed : — 

" Good Lord, William ! don't be standing there 
like you was deaf, dumb, blind, and cripple. Say 
what you 've got to say and then go and let me 
have a minnit's peace. If I ever undertake to 
make any more jelly out of dried apples I hope I 
may be forgiven beforehand for the sins I '11 com- 
mit. You 've got something on your mind, 
William ; spit it out." 

I told her there was a gentleman in the parlor 
who wanted to see her about engaging board. 

" Well, you can jest go right back and tell him 
to take himself off. I 've got more boarders now 
than I can stomach. They are all like lambs when 
they first come ; butter would n't melt in their 
mouths ; but by the time they 've swallowed one 
meal they are ready to strut around and spit on 
the floor, and do like they owned the whole house 
with the trash-barrel throw'd in for good measure. 
No ; go and tell the man, whoever he is, that 
enough of a good thing is enough, and too much is 
the greatest plenty." 

Seeing that I stood my ground, sister Jane 
paused and stared at me. " The gentleman that 
wants to see you," I said, " is the stranger who 
walked before us from church yesterday. I have 
already told him that you will see him in a mo- ' 
ment." 



254 SISTER JANE. 

" Well, you 're taking a good deal on yourself, 
William, I must say," sister Jane snapped. Then 
in the same breath, but in a far different tone, " I 
look like a fright, I reckon. How 's my hair be- 
hind there ? I 've jest got to change this cape. It 
smells like somebody 'd rubbed it with bacon rind. 
Go back and tell him I '11 be in directly, and if 
he looks like anybody, try to make yourself polite, 
and don't look all draw'd up like you was afeard 
somebody was going to say ' boo ' at you." 

I hardly had time to deliver my message before 
sister Jane followed me. With easy address and 
a genial smile the gentleman bowed. " This is 
Miss Wornum, I believe ? " Sister Jane nodded 
her head. " My name is Cowardin." 

" Did n't I see that child at church yesterday ? " 
asked sister Jane. 

" What about it, Cap ? " Mr. Cowardin inquired 
with a broad smile. 

The lad hung his head and fell to picking at the 
side of the chair on which he sat. Presently he 
half raised his head, with a smile and a blush, very 
much as a girl would do. " Yes, ma'am, you saw 
me," he said. 

" Well, my feelings have been hurt about you 
ever sence," sister Jane confessed. " Wait a 
minnit." 

She whipt out of the room, and presently came 
back with her turkey-tail fan. 

" There, honey," she said handing it to the lad. 
" Take it and look at it to your heart's content, 



A NEW BOARDER AT SISTER JANE'S. 255 

and you may tear it up for what I care. I 've been 
feeling mean ever sence I jerked it away from you 
yesterday." 

" It was n't anything to feel bad about," the lad 
protested stoutly, but I could see that his eyes 
shone, and that the blush on his tanned face 
deepened. 

" You make too much of it, Miss Wornum," 
said Mr. Cowardin. " The biggest things soon 
pass out of a child's mind." 

" Yes, but they remember the little things — 
the things that have a taste of meanness in 'em," 
remarked sister Jane positively. 

" That is so," Mr. Cowardin assented. " It is so 
in my case anyhow." He paused, allowed his eyes 
to rest on the floor, and seemed to be lost in thought. 
" I beg your pardon," he said. " I wanted to get 
nice quarters for that boy of mine. I believe you 
take boarders only by the day ; but I hope you '11 
take Cap there and give him a bed as well as 
board. You '11 find him the least trouble in the 
world. I '11 not bother you myself. The tavern 
is good enough for me." 

Sister Jane looked at the boy, and then looked 
at Mr. Cowardin. 

The latter evidently understood what was in her 
mind. He fumbled about in his pockets, and drew 
forth a small key. 

" Cap, go to the tavern and bring the lady a 
handful of shells from your trunk." 

The lad took the key and was about to rush 



256 SISTER JANE. 

away. Suddenly he bethouglit himself, took the 
fan from the chair where he had laid it, and handed 
it to sister Jane. 

" It is a nice fan, and I 'm very much obliged to 
you," he said. 

" Why, you 're a thousand times welcome, honey, 
and more too ! " exclaimed sister Jane heartily. 

" I sent him away," said Mr. Cowardin, when 
the child was gone, " because you were ready to 
ask me some questions about him. It worries him 
very much to hear people talking about him." 

" Is his mother dead ? " sister Jane asked. 

" I don't know whether she 's dead or alive." 

" Is he your son ? " 

" Except through Adam, he 's no relation of 
mine that I know of." 

" Well," said sister Jane bluntly, " I hope you 
ain't trying to pack him off on me and then run 
away and leave him." 

Mr. Cowardin threw his head back and indulged 
in a laugh genuine enough to dispel sister Jane's 
suspicions. 

" Eun away and leave Cap ! " he cried. " Why, 
I 've carried him on my back hundreds of miles ; 
I 've gone hungry to feed him ; and I 've suffered 
from cold to keep him warm." 

" Then who is he and what is he ? " asked sister 
Jane with genuine curiosity. 

Mr. Cowardin stroked his iron-gray beard 
thoughtfully. " The most that I know — the most 
that I can say — is that he is one of the Little 



A NEW BOARDER AT SISTER JANE'S. 257 

Children of the World." He smiled as he said 
this, and I knew he had in his mind the sermon 
we had heard the day before. " In 1850, a party 
of us started from St. Louis to go to California. 
The gold fever was at its height then, and as soon 
as the news got abroad that a few of us were 
going, hundreds asked to join us. We were glad 
enough of their company. We asked no questions. 
We just told everybody that came that they were 
welcome to go with us. It made no difference 
whether a man was a thief, or a vagabond, or an 
honest man. I was pretty much of a vagabond 
myself about that time." 

" Well, you don't look like it," said sister Jane. 

Mr. Cowardin laughed. " Looks don't amount 
to much. Miss Wornum. I used to think they did 
when I was young. Why, the worst man I ever 
saw was fixed up just like a preacher one Sunday, 
and I saw him hanged the next Friday." He 
paused as if the incident swarmed with unpleasant 
memories. With a quick gesture he went on. 
" Well, hundreds wanted to go, and we told them 
to be ready on a certain day, the only conditions 
being that they should carry along provisions 
enough to last four months. We did n't know 
what might happen. When the day came we 
found that there were forty wagons. We thought 
there would be more, but these were enough. 
Before starting, my partners and myself saw that 
there^ would have to be some sort of organization, 
somebody to manage and control. So we called 



258 SISTER JANE. 

the men together (there was a pretty big crowd of 
them), and I told them that there must be some 
one to take charge of matters whenever it became 
necessary. I explained the matter as well as I 
could, and then some one asked me my name, and 
before I knew it they had made me Captain. 

" This pleased the men better than it did me, 
but no matter ; the choice had been made. I 
sent twenty wagons twelve hours ahead, in charge 
of one of my partners, and followed with the rest. 
We kept up this order for many days. The fifth 
day out from St. Louis, as I was riding ahead of 
the wagons (I had ray saddle-horse) I saw a child 
sitting on the edge of the trail. It was crying, 
and was so badly scared that its limbs jerked as 
if it were afflicted with some queer kind of disease. 
I jumped from the saddle and took the little fellow 
in my arms, and soon had him quieted. When I 
asked him his name, he shook his head and said, 
' Fraley,' or something that sounded like it. He 
could talk plainly for a child so young, and I sup- 
posed of course that ' Fraley ' was his name. 

" Naturally, I thought he had been accidentally 
left by the wagons ahead of us. There were sev- 
eral families along, and perhaps twenty children 
not larger than this child. I judged that he was 
asleep in the rear wagon, and had in some way 
fallen out — just how I could not imagine. I 
thought that as soon as he was missed some one 
would come rushing back along the trail, searching 
for him. So I made no bother about the matter. 



A NEW BOARDER AT SISTER JANE'S. 259 

I let the little chap ride on the saddle in front of 
me until he fell asleep, and then put him in charge 
of one of the women in my train, telling her to 
feed him and take care of him until his people 
called for him. 

" In this way I made my mind easy about the 
child, and for some hours forgot him altogether. 
When I did go to the woman's wagon to inquire 
about him, he was wide awak,e and lively, but as 
soon as he saw me he held out his little hands to 
come to me, and refused to be comforted when I 
started to ride off without him. The upshot of it 
was that I took him on my saddle, and after that, 
as no one came to claim him, he used to ride in 
front of me for hours at a time, and I became so 
accustomed to his company that he was n't in my 
way at all. The woman took care of him and 
tidied him up when he was n't riding with me, but 
after a while I took him in my own wagon at 
night." 

" Well, for the Lord's sake ! did n't you never 
inquire about his folks ? " sister Jane asked. 

"To tell you the truth. Miss Wornum, I had 
bigger things than babies on my mind just then. 
I had to think for all those people, and we were 
going through a dangerous part of the country. 
I had to put a stop to gambling ; I had to settle all 
disputes and put down aU quarrels. The men 
were not members of any Sunday-school at that 
time ; they had knives, pistols, bad tempers, and a 
good deal of mean whiskey along, and you know 



260 SISTER JANE. 

what that means. I might have done many things 
that I did n't do. But I found out afterwards 
that the child was really a waif. There was no 
one to lay claim to it. The woman I was telling 
you of pointed out a man — a slouching, ugly fel- 
low — who scared the boy nearly to death every 
time he came near ; but I thought little of that 
until one day when we were eating dinner the 
child screamed and ran to me, and I saw the man 
going by. I called him back and asked why the 
youngster was afraid of him. His explanation 
was that on one occasion, in a spirit of mischief, 
he had made a face at the little chap. This was a 
likely story, for the man was as ugly as sin when 
he screwed his face up to show me how the boy 
had been scared. 

" I had no time to think it over then, but I have 
thought since that the man knew all about the 
child. Anyhow I let the matter pass. The young- 
ster stayed with me, and nearly half the time he 
was in the saddle in front of me. The men got 
to calling him Young Cap, and I began to caU 
him Cap myself, and have kept it up ever since. 
We 've seen hard times and good times together. 
We 've lived like wild beasts in the woods, and 
we 've lived like princes, and through it all we 've 
stuck together, and I would n't like it much if 
somebody was to jump up some day and say, ' That 
boy is mine and not yours,' and prove it." 

" Colonel Bullard's little boy was stolen several 
years ago," I remarked. " Maybe " — 



A NEW BOARDER AT SISTER JANE'S. 2G1 

" So I have been told," replied Mr. Cowardin. 

" It would be queer, now " — 

" Goodness, William ! " exclaimed sister Jane. 
" How could Freddy BuUard be found a-settin' by 
the road the other side of nowhere ? " 

" It would be very queer, indeed," said Mr. Cow- 
ardin ; " in fact, next to impossible in my opinion. 
Yet the thought that it might be so was what 
brought me here." 

" You knew the circumstance, then ? " I sug- 
gested. 

" I chanced to be in this town the day it hap- 
pened," Mr. Cowardin said. " I remember you 
very well. That night you went to the show with 
a young lady — Miss BuUard — hunting for the 
lost child. The man at the entrance of the tent 
took you through, and walked part of the way 
home with you. He has changed greatly, has n't 
he?" 

" Well, upon my word ! " I cried. " And you 
were that man ! You were very kind to us, but 
your voice was sharper — severer — than it is 
now." 

" Ah, I was on duty then," he explained with a 
laugh. " Moreover, five years of such experiences 
,as I have had are calculated to take the rough 
edges off a man — particularly when he has seen 
some of his plans turn out to be successful." 

" And you think this child may possibly be little 
Freddy Bullard ? " I ventured to remark. 

" As I said, I think it is next to impossible if 



262 SISTER JANE. 

we take all the facts into consideration. And yet 
where there is one chance in a million, it does no 
good to doubt or to hesitate. I remember an inci- 
dent in California that will fit this case. I had 
worked in the ditches and gulches for months, and 
had hardly found enough gold to buy a pound of 
flour. Times were squally, I can tell you. I had 
worked new claims, and dug over old ones, and at 
last I just naturally gave up. I had no hope, and 
did n't care for anything except the boy. I could 
have picked up a fair living in the gambling-sa- 
loons ; but there was Cap. I took him with me one 
day, and began to work over an old claim that had 
once been the richest in the camp. At last I 
paused. I was hot, tired, and disgusted. I looked 
at Cap. He was sitting on the bank nodding in 
the shade of a pine. I woke him and asked him, 
half in fun and half in earnest, where I must dig 
to find gold ? ' Right under me,' he said. I 
told him to get from under the swing of the pick. 
He rolled away, and was sound asleep before you 
could snap your fingers. Now the spot where he 
was sitting was a rock, and it jutted out from the 
bank considerably, showing that it had been par- 
tially dug around already. 

" I swung the pick over my head and tried to 
drive it through the rock. But it sank into the 
ground up to the eye. When I pried against it, 
the rock fell forward at my feet splashing mud 
and water in my eyes, and when I opened them 
again " — 



A NEW BOARDER AT SISTER JANE'S. 263 

The lad came running in at this moment. He 
had the shells in a beautiful little basket. 

" Oh, Dan ! " he cried, and then stopped still 
and waited. 

" What did I see, Cap, that day in the gulch, 
when I got my eyes full of mud and water ? — the 
last day we worked in the ditches together? " 

" Goodness, Dan ! You saw gold. You said 
that if I had n't been asleep you 'd have yelled so 
that everybody in the camp would have come run- 
ning." 

" I believe you ! " exclaimed Mr. Cowardin. " I 
had struck a pocket, and in that pocket I found as 
much gold as I wanted." 

Sister Jane shook her head incredulously. 
" Well ! you are the first human being in this 
world that ever found as much gold as he wanted." 

"I have told you the simple truth," was Mr. 
Cowardin's reply. " I found as much as I wanted ; 
but I took all I found. I had been working 
harder than any negro ever worked for three 
years, but the nuggets I found in that pocket were 
enough to make a dozen men rich." 

"You know the old saying," remarked sister 
Jane, " ' Easy come, easy go.' " 

" But for that boy," said Mr. Cowardin, " the 
saying would have been partly true in my case." 
He turned to the boy. "Well, Cap, how about 
the shells ? Did you find them ? " 

" Oh, Dan ! the pretty pink one that I wanted 
to give the lady is lost. I can't find it anywhere." 



264 SISTUB JANE. 

" No ; it is somewhere in my trunk. I saw it 
the other day. We '11 get it when we go back to 
the tavern." 

The shells were exquisitely beautiful — the 
most peculiar I had ever seen before or have ever 
seen since. Mr. Cowardin explained that they 
were found on the coast of an island in the South 
Seas. Sister Jane was in ecstasies over them. 
She had two old conchs that she had treasured for 
years on account of the wonderfully delicate pink 
color that marked them. She looked at every 
shell, — there were dozens of fine ones, — and then 
reluctantly handed them back to the child. 

" They are for you," he said, putting his hands 
behind him with a gesture that was both graceful 
and gentle. 

" For me ! " cried sister Jane. " Well, I de- 
clare, honey, nobody in the world could 'a' given 
me anything that I 'd prize more. I '11 empty 'em 
out directly, so you can get your basket." 

" The basket goes along with them," the lad 
explained. 

" If you '11 notice, Miss Wornum, it 's a very 
pretty piece of workmanship. It is made of the 
scales of a fish they catch in the South Seas." 

Sister Jane's delight shone in her face, and 
well it might. The scales had been polished until 
they wore the lustre of pearls. They shimmered 
and gleamed in the light. 

" Honey, how can I thank you ? I don't know 
what I 've done to have such good luck. I hope I 



A NEW BOARDER AT SISTER JANE'S. 265 

won't wake up in the morning and find that I 've 
been dreaming. If this is what I get by being 
mean to a nice boy, I'll be mean to the next one 
I see. But I don't know where in the world I '11 
find another as nice and as clever as you are." 

The child blushed with pleasure, and I listened 
with some degree of astonishment, for I had never 
before heard sister Jane pay such a compliment to 
any one, especially to one of the male sex. 

" You may run out in the garden and pick some 
roses," she said. 

" Oh, may I ? " cried the lad. He waited for 
no confirmation, but darted from the room. 

There was silence for a while, and then Mr. 
Cowardiu spoke. 

" If you can take Cap, Miss Wornum, it would 
relieve me of a great deal of anxiety and not add 
to yours. He is a manly little fellow, but gentle 
and thoughtful. He will not be here long before 
he can discover from your countenance whether 
you are pleased or displeased, and he will do what 
he can to please you. He has seen rough times, 
rough countries, and rough people, but he has been 
with me so long that he has old ways about him. 
He 's the best child I ever saw to be full of health 
and fun." 

"Well, I'll talk with William," said sister 
Jane. " I '11 find out how he feels about it. I 
think we can fix up for the child — that is, if you 
think the place will suit him." 

Mr. Cowardin laughed. " Don't allow that idea 



266 SISTER JANE. 

to trouble you. He will be delighted. I stall feel 
lonely without Cap at night, for he has been my 
only companion for many a long day, but he can 
come and sit with me sometimes at the tavern 
until I find better quarters." 

" Or you can come and sit here with us after 
tea," I suggested. 

" Yes ; I had intended to ask permission to do 
that," he said. 

" Or you can take your meals here if the fare 
suits you," remarked sister Jane. " Not that I 
want any more boarders. The Lord knows them 
that I 've got are enough to make a sinner out of 
a saint." 

" That would be better — a great deal better. 
I could be with Cap oftener," said Mr. Cowardin 
eagerly. " I am not trying to get rid of the boy. 
He is a pleasure to me every hour of the day. 
But he must go to school — that is certain — it 
can't be helped." He spoke as if he were repeat- 
ing an old argument that he had had with himself. 
" I have skimmed through some books with him, 
and he can read, write, and cipher ; but he must 
go to school ; he must get with other boys, good or 
bad. And then I want him to have a place that 
will be like home to him. He has never known 
what a home is — and here he can find out about 
it. As to terms," Mr. Cowardin went on after a 
pause, " make them to suit yourself. Just imagine 
that we are to give you no end of trouble and fix 
your price accordingly. That is the way to do busi- 



A NEW BOARDER AT SISTER JANE'S. 267 

ness with strangers. Fix a good round sum and 
make them pay in advance." 

" I '11 not grumble at what I get out of you," 
said sister Jane bluntly. " If I grumble at all 
it '11 be at what I don't get." 

And so from that time forth, and for many 
days, Mr. Cowardin and the lad became a part 
and parcel of our household. 



XIX. 

THE lad's EIDE. 

It came to pass that Mr. Cowardin gave us a 
great deal of his company, especially in the even- 
ings, and it was very pleasant company, too, for 
he was not merely a fluent talker. Travel, wide 
experience, and keen observation had given him 
something to talk about. He visited all parts of 
the United States, the islands of the sea, and the 
countries of the east that are most conveniently 
reached by going west. He was well educated to 
begin with, and this fact had served him well. 
When information comes to the mind of a man 
who has prepared himself properly it goes through 
a sifting process that transforms it into know- 
ledge that is power when it is active, and culture 
when it is quiescent. 

It may be imagined, therefore, that we found 
Mr. Cowardin's conversation both interesting and 
instructive. He thus brought us in touch with 
the teeming world beyond our sober horizon, the 
great world that we knew of mainly by report. 
He told us of queer peoples and of strange inci- 
dents by land and sea, and managed in this way to 
broaden our views and to give a wider range to 



THE LAD'S RIDS. 269 

our sympatMes. He tad. so much to talk about 
that he rarely had occasion to refer to himself, 
and this was a refreshing novelty in a provincial 
village where people have little else to talk of. 

Mrs. Beshears had a fancy of her own that she 
had seen Mr. Cowardin somewhere before, but 
when, for my own amusement, I asked her to trace 
her impression to its source, it was found to rest 
on the belief that the expression of his face re- 
minded her of some one she had known, but, for 
the life of her, she couldn't say who. He "favored 
somebody," but who he favored, Mrs. Beshears 
did n't know. At any rate she liked him, for no 
matter how many questions she might ask (and 
her inquisitiveness seemed to be without bounds 
or limit) he was always ready to answer them — 
nay, more, his good nature and his sense of humor 
were so fused that he seemed to invite her curiosity 
that he might not only please her, but also enjoy 
her blunt comments and observations. Naturally, 
therefore, the heart of Mrs. Beshears warmed 
toward this man of the world who treated her with 
such patient deference. I think all our hearts 
warmed toward him, for he had that indefinable 
charm of manner that attracts the confidence of 
men and women alike. He had the repose that 
strength imparts, and the gentleness that belongs 
to good breeding. 

As for the lad, — the boy he called Cap, — he 
was even more charming in his ways than the 
guardian Providence had sent him. He had the 



270 SISTEB JANE. 

advantage of youth — and it is a tremendous ad- 
vantage, say what we will. Each day that passed 
over my head (as the saying is) made me more 
keenly alive to that fact, and more sensitive to it, 
too. The child had this great advantage, and he 
seemed instinctively to know how to employ it. 
He had never associated to any extent with other 
children, and this fact gave him sober and 
thoughtful manners. He had been so long thrown 
upon his own resources, so far as amusement was 
concerned, that he had what the women-folk called 
"old-fashioned ways." And these gave an addi- 
tional charm to his youth, for they were based on 
a certain manliness of character that was clearly 
above all the small and petty tricks of mischievous- 
ness that are common to boys. He was strong, 
healthy, and as full of animal spirits as a colt — 
and yet shy, reserved, gentle, and polite. 

From the very first he took a great fancy to 
Mary, and she to him, and when she used to ask 
for her little sweetheart (as she called him) I 
always felt with a pang how much happiness 
youth could have if it only knew how to seize and 
appropriate it. The lad was fond of me, too, and 
seemed to enjoy nothing better than to sit in my 
room, or on the little porch outside, and read such 
books as I was willing to put in his hand. He 
had. many of the girlish ways and cute methods 
that innocence stamps its seal on. 

It was a great sensation in the village when Mr. 
Cowardin bought the lad a pony out of a drove of 



THE LAD'S RIDE. 271 

horses, — a pony that even the traders advised him 
not to buy if he was buying it for a boy. But 
he bought it, nevertheless, and, when cornered 
and caught, it seemed to be impatient even of 
the halter. A negro hostler, after some trouble, 
led the creature around to the front of the building 
in which Mr. Cowardin had his lodgings. From 
among his traps (as he called them) he fished 
a bridle with a long heavy dragoon bit, and a 
saddle that was in some respects unlike any I had 
ever seen, being entirely barren of skirts. It was, 
in fact, nothing but a saddle-tree. The stirrups 
were of wood, and the straps in which they hung 
were wide enough to protect the legs of the rider. 
After a struggle, the pony was bridled and sad- 
dled ; but he was a vicious - appearing creature. 
He had a bald face, and his ears were continually 
rtioving in opposite directions. My heart jumped 
in my throat when I found that our lad was to 
ride the horse, and somehow I felt cooled toward 
Mr. Cowardin. It was a feeling that I fully re- 
covered from only after a long interval, though I 
could but see that the boy was eager for the ride. 

" Shall I try him first. Cap ? " Mr. Cowardin 
cried out. 

" No, Dan ; you 're too heavy." 

With that the lad went forward, stroked the 
pony on the nose, with no perceptible soothing 
effect, so far as I could see, and then stood by the 
stirrup. By the side of the horse — they called 
the creature a pony because he was a trifle under 



272 SISTER JANE. 

size — the lad looked small and frail indeed. He 
placed his foot in the stirrup. As he did so the 
horse swerved wildly away from him, but the lad 
was already in the saddle. The creature tried to 
rear, but was held by Mr. Cowardin ; it whirled 
and almost sat upon its haunches, and then out of 
the dust and confusion I heard the clear voice of 
our lad cry out : — 

"All right, Dan ! Give him his head." 
But the horse was no freer when Mr. Cowardin 
removed his hands from the bridle than he was 
before. The dragoon bit acted as a powerful 
lever, even in the comparatively weak hands of 
the lad, so that, although a terrible struggle 
ensued between the horse and rider, — a struggle 
that held my alarm up to the highest possible 
pitch as long as it lasted, — an expert might have 
seen what the end would be. But I was no expert 
in such matters, nor desired to be. I could only 
remember that the boy was a mere child and that 
the horse was strong and vicious. The creature 
made a series of terrific leaps and bounds, but 
somehow the lad seemed to be prepared for each 
successive shock. Once the horse fell, but the lad 
was on his feet in an instant, and in the saddle 
again when the animal rose. Mr. Cowardin kept 
as close to the horse and rider as possible, and 
when the horse rose from his fall, passed a keen 
rawhide to the lad, remarking, — 

" Now give him his medicine, Cap. Make him 
remember you." 



THE LAD'S RIDE. 273 

The rawhide descended with a swishing sound, 
not once, but many times, and I could hear its 
swish as far as I could see the horse and rider, 
for they went careering up the village street like 
mad. In a little while — perhaps a half an hour 
— they came back. The lad's face was flushed 
with the exercise, and the horse was going at an 
easy canter. 

" Why, Dan, he 's as gentle as a dog. He goes 
as easy as a canoe." 

There was considerable applause from the spec- 
tators who had been attracted by the episode, but 
I confess I did not share in it. I only waited to 
make sure that the child was not hurt, and then I 
turned away from the scene with more disgust 
than I would have cared to confess at the time. 
Mr. Cowardin must have discovered it from the 
expression of my face, for, after telling the lad to 
ride the horse slowly about until he had cooled 
off, he joined me as I walked homeward. 

" You don't admire fine horsemanship," he sug- 
gested. 

" Well, I confess I don't relish an exhibition 
where a child is pitted against a wild beast," I re- 
plied. 

" But you see what has happened," he said. 

" Yes ; I thank Heaven the lad is unhurt," I 
answered. " There were a thousand chances 
against him where there was one in his favor. 
Providence is kind even to those who tempt it." 

" Chance ! " exclaimed Mr. Cowardin, laying his 



274 SISTER JANE. 

broad hand on my shoulder in a friendly way. 
" My dear sir, do you imagine that I would trust 
Cap where there is even one chance against him ? 
Think half a second ! For six, yes, nearly seven 
years, until lately, that boy has never been out of 
reach of my hand. Would I be likely to trust him 
where there is danger and not share it with him ? " 

" But you must admit there was danger of an 
accident," I said. 

" Beyond all question. But if you will tell me 
where the lad will be safe from all accident I will 
gladly carry him there." 

He spoke seriously, and I saw he had the better 
of the argument. But the human mind teems with 
its whims and prejudices, and somehow it was long 
before I could think of Mr. Cowardin without a 
slight feeling of revulsion. It would have been 
impossible to convince me then and there that he 
was not a cruel man at bottom. I may as well say 
here that I did him rank injustice in this, as well 
as in another matter to be spoken of later. But 
the spectacle of that child mounted on the snort- 
ing and plunging horse gave a shock to my mind 
that it was long in recovering from. 

" Cap is as much at home on a horse," Mr. Cow- 
ardin went on to say, " as you are in your rocking- 
chair. When he had been with me a year he was 
a fairly good rider, and he 's been riding ever since. 
He learned to ride unruly horses as everything 
else is learned — by degrees. For months those 
he mounted were held by a lariat. In course of 



THE LAD'S RIDE. 275 

time, he could ride them without assistance as well 
as anybody, and a great deal better than many 
grown men who had been practicing for years. I 
have seen him mount horses an hour after they 
had been caught in the wilderness. And if he 
could manage them why should I be afraid to trust 
him with a horse that has been broken to the 
saddle?" 

" How did you know that ? " I inquired. 

" By the saddle marks on his back," replied Mr. 
Cowardin. " Whenever the saddle chafes and 
scalds a horse's back the hair will grow out white 
and remain white." 

Inside the house, we found sister Jane boiling 
over with indignation. She had witnessed a part 
of the spectacle, and she was still nervous. 

" Well, good Lord ! " she cried ; " if he 's dead 
or onj'inted don't fetch him in here. When there 
ain't no sort of excuse for a funeral I don't want 
none in my house." 

" What do you mean ? " I asked, well knowing 
that I would have to stand the brunt of the storm. 

" William Wornum, don't you dare to stand up 
there like a wax figger and ask me what I mean," 
she exclaimed. " You know mighty well what I 
mean ! And there you stood with your mouth 
wide open, a-grinning like a simpleton, your hands 
in your pockets a-watching that boss a-trying to 
kill that child — that baby, as you may say! I 
declare, William Wornum ! if it had n't 'a' been 
for the scandal of it, I 'd 'a' picked up a stick and 



276 SISTER JANE. 

come out there and give you a frailltig. An' if 
I 'd 'a' come," she went on significantly, " you 
would n't 'a' been the only one I 'd 'a' frailed, 
neither. What did you do with the child after 
you picked him up? Don't be a-standing there 
grinning at me, William Wornum ! I ain't no 
baby on no boss. Where did you take the child ? 
I '11 go and look at him and see that he 's fixed 
straight on his cooling-board, but he shan't be 
brought here." 

" What are you talking about, sister Jane ? " I 
asked again. " Mr. Cowardin here does n't under- 
stand you any more than I do." 

" Well, I '11 tell you what I mean, William 
Wornum," she said, turning upon me. " If I 'd 
'a' been in the place of two men, one as big as a 
mule (and not much better) and the other about 
the size of a stunted steer (and with no more 
sense), I 'd 'a' cut off my right hand before I 'd 'a' 
let that innocent child git on that boss. Woman 
as I am 1 'd 'a' cut off my right hand before I 'd 
'a' risked that child's life. I say it here and I '11 
say it anywhere." 

Mr. Cowardin laughed good-humoredly and 
would have said something, but just at that mo- 
ment the lad came skipping along the hallway. 

"Oh, Dan," he cried, "I told the hostler to 
walk the pony and then rub him down. I hap- 
pened to think that I saw Miss Jane standing in 
the porch out there when the pony fell, and she 
looked so scared that I thought I 'd run home and 



THE LAD'S BIDE. 217 

tell her how nice it is to ride a pony that is n't used 
to riding." 

He ran to sister Jane, and caught hold of her 
hand. 

" Why, honey, you 're all in a muck of a sweat." 
She got a towel and wiped the lad's face, and 
brushed his hair back behind his ears. " Where 
are you hurt, honey?" she asked with motherly 
solicitude. 

" Hurt ! " the lad exclaimed. " Why, I have n't 
a scratch on me." 

" Well, it 's the wonder of the world, and you 'd 
better thank the Lord that the day of meracles 
ain't gone by. The way that hoss flung around 
wi' you was enough to jolt your soul-case loose. If 
you 're alive and well you don't owe them two any 
thanks for it." She nodded her head toward Mr. 
Cowardin and myself. 

" Pshaw ! if all horses were as easy to ride as 
that one was I 'd like to have a new one every two 
hours," said the lad. 

Whereupon, he proceeded to inform sister Jane 
how he had learned to ride and how much he en- 
joyed it ; and he did it with more success than 
either Mr. Cowardin or myself could have hoped 
to achieve. 

" Well, all I 've got to say," remarked sister 
Jane, " is that if you two ain't got nothing better 
to do than to put that child where he 's liable to 
have every bone in his body knocked out of j'int, 
I want you to take your monkey show somewhere 



278 SISTES JANE. 

where I can't see it. I 'm tliat weak I can hardly 
lift my hand to my head, and I don't know when 
I '11 git over it." 

" Well, I 'm very sorry," said Mr. Cowardin. 

" Sorry ! " cried sister Jane. " What good does 
that do, I 'd like to know ? The man that went 
out one night and shot his grandmother in the 
corn-patch, thinking she was a bear, was sorry, but 
that did n't help matters. To be sorry don't mend 
no broken bones, neither does it call the dead back 
to life. If that boss had broke the child's neck, 
we 'd 'a' aU been sorry, but what good would it 'a' 
done?" 

There was no reply to such an argument as this, 
and Mr. Cowardin attempted none. The result 
was that sister Jane was soon in a good humor, 
and in the course of a few days she talked of the 
affair in a manner that showed she was proud of 
the lad's accomjjlishments as a rider. 

Now, as I have said, I shared in a measure 
sister Jane's feeling of indignation at the eques- 
trian performance, but, in my case, the feeling 
took the shape of disgust. I hoped that Mary 
Bullard had not been a witness of the scene, for 
I felt sure that her sensitive nature would be 
shocked by it. But, to my amazement, she came 
running through the garden for the express pur- 
pose of telling the lad how bold he was, and how 
beautifully he sat the horse. Her enthusiasm 
showed in her face, too, for her eyes sparkled 
with pleasure, and she was lovelier than ever. 



THE LAD'S SIDE. 279 

And presently — which was more wonderful 
still — Mary's mother came gliding along the gar- 
den walk to congratulate the child. She took his 
face between her hands and kissed him on his 
forehead. She was even more enthusiastic than 
Mary. 

" I must thank your little boy for reminding me 
of my home," she said to Mr. Cowardin. " I 
have n't seen such a thing — oh, it has been years. 
Why, when the child began to use the whip and 
the horse went plunging by, everything faded be- 
fore my eyes and I was at home again. I never 
thought anybody but a Brandon could manage a 
horse like that." 

" A Brandon ! " The exclamation came from 
Mr. Cowardin. The Colonel's wife understood it 
to be put as an interrogation. 

" My father's family name," she said, holding her 
head a trifle higher, I imagined. " I never saw 
any one but a Brandon ride as this child did to- 
day. He reminded me of my brother Fred. I 
was a tot of a girl, but I can remember how my 
brother rode when he mounted an unruly horse. 
My father kept a stable of racers," she explained. 
" Oh, and it carried me back to old times when I 
saw this child to-day ! " she opened and closed her 
delicate white hands nervously. 

Mr. Cowardin made some deferential response 
that seemed to please Mary and her mother, for 
they both laughed, and Mary blushed. I have 
forgotten what the remark was — some pleasant 



280 SISTER JANE. 

formality, — for at that moment I seemed to see 
everything in a new light. It came over me sud- 
denly (and the thought announced itself to my 
mind with a sharp pang) that, possibly, Mr. Cow- 
ardin had made a deep impression on Mary. My 
ears buzzed and the room seemed to be reeling 
around me, and I was compelled to catch hold of 
the back of the chair behind which I was standing 
to reassure myself that the people and things 
around me were substantial. 

I have never been able to discover what put such 
an idea in my head. It was probably the outcome 
of many incidents, all of which became more sug- 
gestive than ever when illuminated by the possibil- 
ity I have mentioned. I remembered a hundred 
things that had seemed to be but trifles until this 
possibility shed a new light upon them. I remem- 
bered how eagerly Mary had listened to the ac- 
counts which Mr. Cowardin gave of his adventures 
— with what rapt attention she had followed not 
only his words, but his every gesture. And now, it 
seemed to me that her enthusiasm over the horse- 
manship of the lad was intended as a tribute to 
Mr. Cowardin. 

And why not ? Here was a man who seemed to 
possess every quality necessary to make a fond wo- 
man happy. If he was older than I, which seemed 
to be probable, he was still in the prime of life. 
His years sat upon him lightly. He was evidently 
a man of affairs. I knew he was rich, and while 
he was not an Apollo, he was not unhandsome. 



THE LAD'S EWE. 281 

He was a man of character and education — just 
such a man, in short, as would be likely to attract 
a woman who admired strength allied with gentle- 
ness. 

And then, somehow, I felt myself relegated to 
the rear — carried to the infirmary (as it were), 
where I might speculate on the pleasures of life, 
but could participate in them no more. I could 
admire Mr. Cowardin, I thought, but I felt that 
my disgust over the risk he had caused the lad to 
run could not easily be dissipated. So thinking 
I made some excuse and went out into the garden, 
where presently I stood gazing at space until I fell 
into a profound reverie that was not all unpleasant, 
for it is so ordained that a mind not given entirely 
over to the small affairs of life has its own special 
resources that it can draw upon at pleasure. 

From this reverie I woke to the fact that Mary 
was near. 

" I 've heard of such things, but I never saw a 
man in the clouds before," she said laughingly. 

" Where ? " I asked, looking toward the zenith. 
My thoughts were so far afield that I took her 
words literally — a fact that caused me to blush and 
wonder at my own stupidity. This made Mary 
laugh all the more. Then she grew serious. 

" You were disturbed when you came out a while 
ago," she remarked. " What was the matter? " 

"Nothing — nothing at all," I replied with 
increasing embarrassment. 

" Oh, please don't tell fibs," she insisted. 



282 SISTER JANE. 

" Something was troubling you. Won't you tell 
me what it was ? " 

" Old people should never bother young folks 
with their troubles," I replied. " I am older than 
Mr. Cowardin." 

" What a pity you are so old," she said, her 
face reddening. "You ought to get a pair of 
crutches. What has Mr. Cowardin to do with it ? " 

" Nothing. He appears to be a young man." 

She smoothed a knot of ribbon, hesitated a mo- 
ment as if about to speak, then sighed and turned 
away. 



XX. 

MEMOEIES OF CLARENCE BULLAED. 

'T WAS impossible to say whether Mary was 
angry or no. 'T was impossible for me to fathom 
her moods, but that my self-humiliation might be 
made more complete, I chose to torment myself 
with the belief that some thought of Mr. Cowardin 
had evoked the sigh. I did now, a^ I had done 
many a time before : I went to my room, locked 
the doors, seized my other self by his ears, dragged 
him to light, and asked him by what right of 
possession, hope, or expectation he had reason to 
feel anything but pleasure when Mary BuUard 
gave a friendly or even a fond smile to any human 
being who seemed to be worthy of it. As usual 
on such occasions, the miserable Ego tried to take 
refuge in all sorts of lame and paltry excuses, but 
I gave him a lesson that he would long remember, 
and finally tucked him under my waistcoat out 
of sight again. To do him justice it should be 
said that he went to sleep and slept comfortably 
for some time, not daring to intrude on me with 
his troubles. 

When Mrs. Beshears came as usual the night 
following the lad's display of horsemanship, sister 



284 SISTER JANE. 

Jane described it with all those little exagger- 
ations of adjective and gesture that a woman 
instinctively employs. Nor was she sparing in 
criticism of the carelessness that prompted Mr. 
Cowardin and myself to place the child on the 
vicious horse, though she laiew I had no more to do 
with it than a person who had never heard of it. 

" Well ! that puts me more in mind of some 
of the deviltries of Clarence BuUard than anything 
that 's come to my ears in many 's the long day," 
remarked Mrs. Beshears. 

Mr. Cowardin turned half around in his chair 
and looked hard at Mrs. Beshears ! " Did you 
know Clarence Bullard ? " he asked. 

" What I did n't know of him I heard about 
him," remarked Mrs. Beshears, nodding her head 
in a self-satisfied way. " Not that I ever blamed 
him for anything I know'd or heard. No, bless 
you ! His daddy named him a name out'n a book, 
an' the poor child could n't help that. He was 
tetotally ruined before his eyes was open, as you 
may say." 

Mr. Cowardin laughed heartily, almost glee- 
fully. " Did Clarence ever do any serious harm ? 
Did he ever rob or kill anybody? It has been 
many a day since I 've heard his name mentioned. 
I had come to the conclusion that he had been for- 
gotten by everybody in the land of the living." 

" No, he never done any rank harm that I know 
of," said Mrs. Beshears. " He was jest full of 
devilment, an' he used to go ridin' aroun' from 



MEMORIES OF CLARENCE BULLARD. 285 

post to pillar, whoopin' an' yellin'. Come down to 
the pinch, he had more harm done to him than he 
ever done to anybody. So I 've heard an' so I 
believe. If you want to know all about it jest 
ax Cephas BuUard. Bless your heart ! he knows. 
Did you ever strike up with Clarence BuUard in 
his travels ? " 

Mr. Cowardin was looking hard at Mrs. Be- 
shears and her question seemed to take him by 
surprise — so much so, that he rose from his chair, 
straightened himself to his fullest height, and then 
sat down again. 

" Why, yes," he replied. " I knew Clarence 
Bullard very well. I was with him in California. 
In fact, we went there together. He was one of 
my partners." 

" Did he get rich, too, like the rest of you ? " 
Mrs. Beshears inquired. 

" He was comfortably well off when I bade him 
good-by," said Mr. Cowardin. 

" Well, I 'm glad of that from the bottom of my 
heart ! " Mrs. Beshears exclaimed. " He won't 
miss what 's been filched from him." 

" I never heard him complain of anything of 
that kind," said Mr. Cowardin. " If he had any 
such trouble he kept it to himself." 

" I believe every word of that," cried sister 
Jane. " You need n't mind Sally. She says a 
heap more than she means. She talks about how 
wild Clarence Bullard was, and yet I 've heard her 
sing his praises to the skies." 



286 SISTER JANE. 

" That 's a fact, Jane," said Mrs. Beshears, 
with a smile. " I say what t' other folks said. 
Clarence Bullard was as handsome a yomig man 
as the Lord ever made." 

" Handsome is as handsome does," suggested 
Mr. Cowardin. 

" That 's so," assented sister Jane ; " but I 
mind how Sally and me went to camp-meetin' once 
on a time. She was married and I was done past 
the marryin' age, but we went with a crowd, and 
when we got there, we was like two fish out of water. 
We stood around with our mouths open, a-feeling 
like two fools that did n't know where to go nor 
what to do. Clarence Bullard was there, dressed 
up fit to kill, and he had a crowd of giggling gals 
around him. When his eye fell on us, he made 
his excuses to the gals, and come a-running with 
his hat off. He wa'n't nothing in the world but a 
boy in looks, but he know'd what to say, and 
't wa'n't a minnit before we was a-feeling at home 
and a-having jest as much fun as the next one, and 
maybe more. He brought us water, and he took 
us to dinner. Make me believe Clarence Bullard 
was mean ! Why, all the lawyers in Philadelphy 
could n't do it." 

" And yet it was a very small thing to do," said 
Mr. Cowardin. 

" You may think it 's a little thing for a young 
man to make two lone wimmen feel like they 
ain't lost, but I don't," remarked sister Jane with 
kindling indignation. 



MEMORIES OF CLARENCE BULLARD. 287 

" No, ner I," cried Mrs. Beshears. 

Mr. Cowardin rose from his chair. " Well, if 
Clarence BuUard knew that he was so kindly re- 
membered for one small act of politeness he would 
be very grateful to you," he said, and turned to go 
from the room. 

" Wait ! " cried Mrs. Beshears ; " come here 
and le' me look at you right close." With that 
she limped across the room, took Mr. Cowardin by 
the arm, and led him closer to the candle-stand, 
where she scrutinized his face closely, much to his 
embarrassment, as it seemed. " I jest wanted to 
see if my old eyes fooled me," she explained. 
" Now you can go." He went out laughing, 
followed by the lad. 

" That 's so about Clarence BuUard," Mrs. Be- 
shears remarked, after she and sister Jane had 
exchanged glances. " I 've had so many ups and 
downs sence then that I had clean forgot it. The 
Lord knows, old folks like me hear so much an' 
know so little that it 's mighty nigh onpossible to 
keep from doin' harm wl' the tongue." 

" I 've had ups an' downs myself " — 

" But not like me, Jane — ■ not like me. Oh, no, 
Jane ! not anyways like me. I declare, I 'm so 
nigh fagged out that I 'm right on the p'int of 
givin' up. That 's the truth if ever I spoke it." 

" I 've had my ups an' downs," sister Jane 
went on, " but that ain't hindered me from recol- 
lecting how Clarence BuUard done that day at the 
camp-meetin'." 



288 SISTEB JANE. 

"Well, you know, Jane," explained Mrs. Be- 
shears, " I was married, an' I did n't set so much 
store by what Clarence BuUard done as you did. 
But he treated us mighty nice, an' I 'm glad — 
truly glad — that he 's got money of his own an' 
ain't beholding to none of his kinnery." 

The lad came back in a little while, told us all 
good-night (placing his arms around sister Jane's 
neck in a way that pleased her mightily), and went 
to bed. Somehow the conversation lagged. Mrs. 
Beshears was not as lively as usual, and she started 
home earlier than was her habit. 

"I'm not feelin' well, Jane," she said, as she 
bade us good-night. " I 'm not well at all. I 'm 
right on the p'int of givin' out. If I ain't feelin' 
no better to-morrow night than I am to-night you 
need n't look for me. My room 's better 'n my 
company, I reckon, an' you won't miss me much ; 
but I declare ! I 've been a-comin' so regular that 
I '11 have to git some of the niggers to watch me 
in the forepart of the night for fear I '11 git up 
an' try to come in my sleep." Mrs. Beshears 
laughed at the thought, but the laugh was neither 
strong nor gay. 

" Do as I do," remarked sister Jane, almost 
sternly. " Don't give up to your sick whims and 
fancies." 

" Lord ! I 've been a-holdin' of 'em at arm's 
length for so long that I 'm a-gittin' weak. The 
feelin' that I 've got now ain't no fancy. I wish 
it was. But I 'm a-gittin' old and tired." 



MEMORIES OF CLARENCE BULLARD. 289 

And it was even so. Never again did Mrs. Be- 
shears come limping to our gate. We thought 
little of the matter the next night when she failed 
to come, but when two nights passed without bring- 
ing her, sister Jane began to grow uneasy, and 
the next day she sent Mandy Satterlee to see what 
the matter could be. Mandy could hardly have 
arrived there before Mose, the negro foreman on 
Mrs. Beshears's place, came to inform us that his 
mistress was very ill indeed, and to beg that Miss 
Jane be so good as to go see what the trouble was. 

" Has a doctor been called in ? " sister Jane 
asked. 

" No 'm, dey ain't," answered Mose, scratching 
his head. " Miss Sally so sot ag'in doctors an' 
doctor truck dat I skeered fer ter fetch one dar, 
kaze dey ain't no tellin' but what she 'd bounce 
out'n bed an' lam' me an' de doctor too." 

Sister Jane was truly indignant, and no wonder. 
" Well, the Lord 'a' mercy I " she cried ; " do you 
mean to stand up and tell me that you 've been 
setting at home, letting your mistress die with- 
out calling in a doctor, you trifling, good-for-no- 
thing rascal ? " 

Moses seemed to be very much alarmed at sis- 
ter Jane's display of anger. He moved about on 
his feet uneasily, and pulled at his hat, which he 
held in his hand, in a way that showed his embar- 
rassment. 

" Wellum, you know how Miss Sally is, yo'se'f, 
ma'am. She ain't make much complaints. She 



290 SISTER JANE. 

des lay dar an' not say mucli, an' we-all ain't know 
how sick she is twel I hear her runnin' on like she 
out'n her head, an' den I come atter you hard ez 
I kin, kaze I know'd you 'd tell us what ter do." 

"No," said sister Jane, "you didn't want any 
doctor there. You and the rest of the niggers out 
there have got it in your heads that if Sally Be- 
shears pegs out you '11 be free. But you '11 be sold 
off'n the court-house block if I have to have it 
done myself. Go and tell Dr. Biggers to hurry 
out there as hard as he can. I want to see you 
move now ! " Mose, thoroughly frightened, went 
off at a run. 

Shortly afterwards. Free Betsey came, and the 
word she brought from Mandy Satterlee was that 
Mrs. Beshears was very low indeed, that sister 
Jane was to come at once, and that Free Betsey 
would get dinner and attend to the baby if that 
arrangement was satisfactory. It was the best that 
could be done, and when sister Jane had called in 
one of her lady acquaintances to superintend affairs 
for her, she was ready to go. For a wonder she 
asked me to accompany her, and I was more than 
willing, for I had a sincere regard for Mrs. Be- 
shears, albeit her sharp tongue had fretted me 
many times. 

When we arrived, the doctor, a jovial old gen- 
tleman of great experience, was already there. He 
was so accustomed to such scenes that he smiled as 
he told us that nothing could be done. An attack 
of influenza had caused a general breaking-dowa 



MEMORIES OF CLARENCE BULLARD. 291 

of the system. That was all, and yet it was 
enough. Dr. Biggers had met us at the door on 
his way out to his buggy, but he turned again and 
went with us into the sick-room. Through force 
of habit he again felt the pulse of Mrs. Beshears, 
and this seemed to fret her, for she jerked her 
hand away with a muttered exclamation of impa- 
tience. 

" She has had a very strong constitution," re- 
marked the doctor suavely, " but you know. Miss 
Jane, the strongest constitution will break down 
after a while." His smile was blandly cute as he 
spoke. " I have left something to be given from 
time to time. The young woman there " — point- 
ing to Mandy — " knows what to do. She was an 
old friend of yours, I believe. Miss Jane ? " 

" She is yet," replied sister Jane tartly. 

" Of course — of course," remarked the doctor 
in a soothing tone. " I understand. I appreciate 
your feelings. Miss Jane. They do you credit." 

He pulled on his gloves as he spoke, smiling all 
the while, and then bade us good-day, still smiling. 
As he went out, he slammed the door, quite by ac- 
cident. The noise seemed to arouse Mrs. Beshears 
from her stupor, and she began to talk. 

" Howdy, Jane ? — You well ? — Weather don't 
bother me, does it ? I jest come anyhow, if I have 
to paddle through mud and wade through water." 
There was a pause, for Mrs. Beshears's breath came 
short and quick. " Where 's the baby ? " She 
reached forth her arm and felt around until her 



292 SISTER JANE. 

hand rested on a pillow. This she patted gently. 
" Don't wake the child up. Keep the cover on it. 
Where's Phyllis? Tell her to look after Polly 
and Becky. Give 'em their coffee an' put plenty 
sugar in it. — Heigh-ho ! I 'm that tired I don't 
know what to do. There ought to be a man to 
look after this place. Oh, Lord ! " 

I chanced to look toward the fireplace where 
Miss Polly and Miss Becky sat. Miss Polly 
reached across and touched Miss Becky on the 
knee. 

" You hear her, Becky ? " 

" I hear her, Polly," replied Miss Becky, shak- 
ing her head as solemnly as her palsied condition 
would permit. 

" Arter a man ! " said Miss Polly grimly. 

" Yes," replied Miss Becky, " allers arter a man. 
She '11 git none of our money." 

" Not a thrip ! " responded Miss PoUy. 

" They 've been a-gwine on that a-way ever sence 
I put my foot in the house," said Mandy to sister 
Jane in an awed tone. 

" And before, too," remarked sister Jane. " Let 
'em alone." 

" I must git up," said Mrs. Beshears. " Where 's 
my shoes ? Somebody 's kicked 'em under the bed, 
I reckon. Git 'em out ! I 've laid here long 
enough. I must go and see Jane. I 'm obleege 
to go. Why, if I was to miss goin' she 'd think 
somethin' terrible had happened." 

Miss Polly nudged Miss Becky again. "Jest 



MEMORIES OF CLARENCE BULLARD. 293 

listen at her," said Miss Polly. " Wants to git 
out'n bed an' go gaddin' up-to\vn." 

" I 'm a-list'nin'," replied Miss Becky. 

" Wants to go gaddin' arter a man," remarked 
Miss Polly. 

" AUers a-gaddin' up-town," echoed Miss Becky. 
"She shan't have none of our money." 

" Not a thrip ! " Miss Polly declared. 

While these two decrepit old women were nod- 
ding their heads together like two muscovy ducks, 
Mrs. Beshears was growing more and more talka- 
tive. Her mind wandered far afield, but it always 
came back to thoughts of sister Jane, and it seemed 
to me that she was less restless, when she was talk- 
ing about her long-time friend. 

Sister Jane tried to talk to her and to soothe 
her, for she had a deft way with sick people, but 
Mrs. Beshears was always impatient at these at- 
tempts to call her back to consciousness. 

" Don't pester me ! " she railed out. " Some- 
body 's all the time a-pesterin' me when I 'm goin' 
to see Jane, or when I 'm tryin' to have a confab 
with her. Oh, go 'way ! Don't pester me. You 
thought I wa'n't comin', didn't you, Jane? But 
here I am, as the flea said to the sick kitten. 
How 've you been since I saw you? And where 's 
that great Mr. Somebody I saw t' other night ? " 

Again Miss Polly nudged Miss Becky. 

" You hear that, don't you? " she asked. 

" Don't I? " said Miss Becky. " Arter a man. 
She shan't have none of our money." 



294 SISTER JANE. 

"Not a thrip," Miss Polly assented. "She 
could n't find it to save her life." 

In this way, Mrs. Beshears rambled in her de- 
lirimn, her sisters tracing everything she said to a 
desire to gad about in order to find another hus- 
band. She sank very rapidly. Her remarkable 
energy and the manifold cares she bore on her 
shoulders had worn out her nature, and now she 
had come to the end of it. When her thoughts 
flew away from sister Jane, they went back to the 
days of her youth, and in this way it pleased Hea- 
ven to lighten her last moments by permitting her 
to live over again in the brief space of a few hours 
the happiest years of her life. 

Sister Jane sat by the bed, and held one of her 
old friend's hands, weeping softly all the while. 
At the last, Mrs. Beshears opened her eyes, half 
raised herself in the bed, and cried out : — 

" Jane, yonder 's Sarah Ann ! Wait, honey, 
an' tell me the news ! " 

Her head sank back on the pillow, and in a mo- 
ment all was over. Mrs. Beshears had joined her 
sister Sarah Ann, who had died fifty years before. 

By the terms of Mrs. Beshears's will, Mandy 
Satterlee was to take charge of Miss Polly and 
Miss Becky and administer to their wants, but, 
to my surprise, Mandy refused to have anything 
to do with them. 

" Whj', I would n't live there an' listen at them 
two poor ol' creeturs a-talkin' about the'r money 
an' about somebody a-marryin' — I would n't stay 



MEifORIES OF CLARENCE BULLARD. 295 

there an' have all that kind of talk ding-dong'd 
into my head eve'y day, not fer all the land in the 
country, nor fer all the money that could be scraped 
together betwixt this an' Kingdom Come." 

And nothing could change her. Sister Jane tried 
to convince her that it was to her interest to go, but 
Mandy disposed of all arguments by falling into a 
fit of weeping, saying that if she wasn't wanted 
where she was, she could go somewhere else, but 
never would she go where " them poor ol' creeturs 
was," unless somebody tied her and toted her there, 
and even then she would n't stay. I think sister 
Jane was secretly pleased with Mandy's decision. 

Under the circumstances, there was but one 
thing to be done. The Judge of the Inferior 
Court had appointed me administrator of the es- 
tate, and I felt it my duty to send Miss Polly and 
Miss Becky to the asylum at Milledgeville, where, 
as pay boarders, they would receive the best of 
care and attention. This, in fact, was the sugges- 
tion of the Court, and I lost no time in carrying it 
out. I imagined that the most difficult part of my 
duty would be to get the two old women to consent 
to make the journey. But the way was smoothed 
by Free Betsey, who, under pretense of telling their 
fortunes, informed them that they would shortly 
go on a journey. For this, strange to say, they 
were eager, and gladly allowed Free Betsey to 
get out their faded finery, shabby and long out of 
date, and brush it up. 

So completely had the idea of the journey been 



296 SISTEM JANE. 

impressed on their minds by Free Betsey that they 
were for getting ready every time they heard the 
wheels of a buggy or carriage rolling by. 

Free Betsey prepared them for the day, and they 
were ready and waiting when Mr. Cowardin and 
myself went for them in a carriage hired for the 
occasion. It was thought best that I should go 
with them, and Mr. Cowardin had volunteered to 
go with me, and proposed to make himself useful 
by driving the carriage. I gladly accepted his 
offer, and found that the journey, short as it was, 
would have been lonely indeed but for his genial 
and interesting conversation. But sometimes a 
silence fell between us, and then it was pitiful in 
the extreme to hear the worse than childish talk of 
Miss Polly and Miss Becky. 

" If Sally had n't been so sot on gaddin' about 
she might 'a' come wi' us," said Miss Becky. 

" We 're gittin' 'long mighty well wi'out her, I 
think," Miss Polly declared. 

" Lawsy, yes ! " Miss Becky assented, and then 
began to chuckle. " She 'U come back an' find us 
gone, an' then what '11 she do ? Won't she be took 
back when they tell her we 've gone a-travelin' ? 
1 would n't be as jealous as Sally is, not for the 
world. Oh, she '11 be sorry she went a-gaddin' ! " 

" She won't do a thing when she finds out 
we 're outer sight an' hearin' but go a-huntin' 
aroun' for our money," Miss Becky declared. 

"She'll dig under the house, an' under the 
trees, an' maybe under the bushes in the yard." 



MEMORIES OF CLARENCE BULLARD. 297 

" But she won't git it. It 's hid wher' she won't 
never look," said Miss Polly. 

" Maybe we ought to a-brung it wi' us," sug- 
gested Miss Becky, taking alarm at her own de- 
mented fancies. 

"Don't you fret, Becky," said Miss Polly. 
" It 's hid wher' she '11 never git it." 

Poor Mrs. Beshears ! She had devoted herself to 
her sisters, and now they did n't even know she was 
dead. They had been told so, but they imagined 
it was part of a scheme to deceive them. 

" She thought she was mighty cunnin'," re- 
marked Miss Becky. " She told the folks that 
come to see us that she was dead, an' they did n't 
have no better sense than to b'lieve her. She 
did n't fool us, did she ? " 

" Fool who ? " cried Miss Polly, with a fine as- 
sumption of scorn. " I went an' looked at her, an' 
thar she was, all laid out. I looked at her right 
close, an' she wa'n't no more dead than I am. If 
you 'd 'a' said man or money to her, she 'd 'a' opened 
her eyes an' 'a' jumped up. She thought she was 
mighty sharp, but she did n't fool me ! " 

I was truly glad when the journey was over, and 
the two demented old women were safely placed 
in the state asylum. We gave the horses and 
ourselves a good night's rest, and started back 
home, which we reached in due time, though an 
incident occurred that seemed to puzzle and worry 
Mr. Cowardin. 



XXI. 

TWO STEANGEES AERIVE. 

As we were nearing home, being not above 
four miles from the village (Mr. Cowardin driv- 
ing, and I sitting on the seat beside him for com- 
pany), we heard the rattle of wheels behind us. 
Turning, I saw a light two-horse top-buggy, — a 
vehicle that was rare enough in these parts to 
attract attention, — drawn by a pair of fine bays. 
Two men were seated in the buggy. One was 
large and handsome, having the color of health in 
his face, while the other was smaller and had a 
sallow complexion. The large man wore a mus- 
tache and a tuft of beard on his chin. The face 
of the other had not known the touch of a razor 
for months, perhaps for years. It was covered 
with a dark yellow beard. They overtook and drove 
around us at a convenient place in the road, and 
I saw a bottle between them. When they had 
passed us a little way, the large man, who was 
driving, pulled his horse up, turned his face toward 
us, and asked how far it was to Hallyton. I in- 
formed him to the best of my ability. The smaller 
man seemed to be very impatient. 

" 'T ain't fur," he said. " Not more 'n four mile. 
Did n't I teU you so?" 



TWO STSANGESS ARRIVE. 299 

I saw then that the face of the large handsome 
man was flushed not with the color of health, but 
with liquor, and I judged from the tone of the 
other that he, too, had been free with the bottle. 

The buggy went forward more rapidly than our 
lumbering old carriage, and it was soon lost to 
view. 

"I'll be worried until I go to sleep," said Mr. 
Cowardin, when the travelers were out of sight 
and hearing. " I 've seen that sandy-haired man 
somewhere before." 

" Why, so have I," was my reply. " He 's some 
countryman hereabouts that the gentleman is 
accommodating with a ride." 

" No," Mr. Cowardin insisted ; " I have seen him 
somewhere in my travels. But where? Were 
you ever bothered about such things ? They give 
me no end of worry." 

" Why, not at all," I remarked. " If I see 
people once and can't remember their names when 
I see them again, it is well and good with me. I 
go on about my business and think of them no 
more. Now, I 'm certain I have seen the sandy- 
haired man somewhere, but when and where I 
neither know nor care." 

" Well, it is different with me," said Mr. Cowar- 
din. " If that man's face was n't impressed on 
my mind I should never remember it. I '11 bother 
with it until I go to bed, and then to-morrow, when 
I 'm not thinking about it, the name, place, and all 
the circumstances will pop into my head, and that 
will be the end of the matter." 



300 SISTER JANE. 

He allowed the horses to jog along, and for some 
time seemed to be lost in thought. Suddenly he 
turned to me. 

" What is your opinion of Mary BuUard's 
mother?" he asked. 

" My dear sir," I replied, " that is a very pecu- 
liar question." 

" It is, indeed," said he, with a smile. " But it 
was not intended to be a question. I simply hap- 
pened to speak my thoughts aloud. We have 
queer thoughts sometimes. I was just thinking 
that Mrs. Bullard is out of her element here. She 
seems to try hard to fit herself to circumstances, 
but they are so different from those she was brought 
up in that they refuse to be fitted. Were you 
ever in Virginia, Mr. Wornum ? " 

" I never was." 

" Then, of course, you can't understand the dif- 
ference between — between — well, the right word 
is lacking ; but let us say roughly, between the 
society there and the society here. If I could get 
hold of some word that meant social hospitality 
and all its results, that would be the word to use. 
But you can see what I mean. Now, in Virginia, 
where Mrs. Bullard came from, society means a 
great deal more than the word conveys. To put 
it broadly, the home life of the people has ex- 
panded until it takes in all who are congenial. 
Now there is not the smallest symptom of that sort 
in your little community here. There is a touch 
of it to the east of us — in Wilkes County and 



TWO STRANGERS ARRIVE. 301 

that region. I am as sorry for Mrs. Bullard as I 
ever was for anybody in my life. I should ima- 
gine she was a very high-spirited woman." 

I could appreciate to some extent the justice of 
his remarks, but I was surprised to find that he 
was such a close observer. 

" I have no need to ask your opinion of the 
daughter," he went on with a smile, whereupon I 
felt my face reddening — " nor anybody else's 
opinion for that matter," he hastened to say, as if 
by that means to cover my blushes. " I have some- 
times wondered that she has never married, con- 
sidering at what an early age the girls marry now- 
adays. I have had the same thoughts about you, 
and it is as impertinent in the one case as in the 
other." He laughed good-humoredly and chir- 
ruped to the horses. 

" As for me, I have passed the limit by a dozen 
years," I remarked. 

" And pray what is that limit? " 

" Thirty years." 

" So ! Then I am a quarter of a century be- 
yond it. If I were you, I should lift the limit to 
suit the circumstances. What is a dozen years 
this side of fifty ? " 

"As to your case," I suggested. 

" Why, bless you ! a quarter of a century is 
something substantial. It stands fiery off, like the 
poet's star. Besides, where the inclination is lack- 
ing the will is dead. Tut, tut, boy ! look at me ! 
I wanted but a half dozen years of twenty-one 



302 SISTER JANE. 

when you were born. I was rambling about the 
world as full of sedition as Aaron Burr before you 
had shed your milk teeth. You 're a mere child ! " 

Mr. Cowardin's good humor ran high — higher 
than I had known it to do before. His talk 
rambled in all directions, but almost invariably 
came back to the Bullards or to our own little 
household. 

" If you were not so ready to blush," he said as 
we drove through the public square of the village, 
" I could give you some good advice and tell you 
some good news. But 't would all be in vain ; 
you 'd blush violently, refuse to take the advice, 
brand the news as a piece of fiction, and say in 
your heart, ' The man is a spy.' Some day when 
you've nothing on your mind but pleasant thoughts, 
remind me of the advice and of the news and I '11 
give you a dose of both. No, no ! not now, not to- 
day ! " he protested when I showed a disposition 
to seek the advice and the information. " Any 
othe* day would be better than this. What we 
need now is a good dinner and some hours of rest." 

But I noticed with some surprise that Mr. 
Cowardin ate but a bite of dinner when we reached 
home, and took no rest at all, for I saw him soon 
after walking about the village with the gentleman 
we had seen driving the buggy. He finally came 
with the gentleman as fai- as our gate, showed him 
Colonel Bullard's house, and then came into my 
room. 

" I 'm still puzzled over the chap we saw this 



TWO STRANGERS ARRIVE. 303 

morning," he said as lie seated himself. "The 
man who was driving the buggy is a Mr. More- 
land of Richmond. He used to know Mrs. Bul- 
lard in Virginia when she was a girl. He has just 
gone to pay her his respects. No doubt she '11 
be glad to see anybody she knew when she was 
a girl. But this man seems to be a pretty tough 
customer. They tell me at the tavern that he 
had the whole town searched until a handful of 
mint was found, and then he seemed to be as 
happy as a lord. He smells as if some one had 
poured a bottle of bergamot oil over his clothes. 
Faugh ! " exclaimed Mr. Cowardin, " wherever he 
goes, people will imagine he is a typical Virginia 
gentleman. Outwardly he 's the poorest kind of a 
counterfeit, whatever he may be inwardly." 

" What is he doing so far from home ? " I in- 
quired, striking involuntarily the usual note of 
provinciality. 

"Traveling — traveling as he thinks all Vir- 
ginia gentlemen should," said Mr. Cowardin. 
" But think of a Virginia gentleman talking about 
nothing but racing events, cock mains, and driving 
all over the country to see them ! Nonsense ! If 
you could search under the seat of his buggy 
you 'd find all the tools of a blackleg, including a 
dozen bottles of liquor." 

Mr. Cowardin seemed to be very much disgusted 
with the handsome Mr. Moreland. And the man 
was handsome, despite the somewhat puffy appear- 
ance of his face. He had curly black hair, a strong 



304 SISTER JANE. 

profile, and lie walked with a swagger that was by 
no means unbecoming. 

" As to the other fellow," Mr. Cowardin was 
going to say, when I interrupted him — 

" But if this Mr. Moreland disgusts you, why 
bother about the other fellow, who may be worse." 

" That 's the point. I want to see whether he 's 
worse or better. He may be the real gentleman, 
you know. But this Moreland pretends to know 
as little about him as I do. It seems he picked 
him up somewhere several weeks ago, and has 
been carrying him along for company. Moreland 
is n't even sure of the man's name. He calls him 
Satellite, but thinks his name is Simpson or Samp- 
son. The name is nothing to me. I know the 
man's face ; it puzzles me, and I want to find out 
where I saw him last." 

" Well, I see nothing in him to puzzle or to in- 
terest anybody," I said. " I too have seen the man 
somewhere, but I would n't give a copper to know 
when or where." 

" Oh, you have other matters to think about," 
remarked Mr. Cowardin, with a twinkle in his eye, 
— "interesting matters, too, if I'm any judge; 
while I have little else to occupy my mind at the 
present moment. I 've already found out that my 
man has gone out of town into the country, and that 
he rode ' shank's mare,' as the saying is." 

" What did I tell you ? " I cried. " I was cer- 
tain he belonged hereabouts. The next time you 
see him, he '11 be driving a yoke of steers, hitched 



TWO STRANGERS ARRIVE. 305 

to a big wagon, and in the wagon he '11 have three 
pounds of frothy white butter, two dozen eggs, and 
a half dozen sickly chickens. He '11 exchange these 
for eight yards of calico, a hank of yarn, a plug of 
tobacco, and a bottle of Maccaboy snuff." 

Mr. Cowardin laughed, and, calling for Cap, — 
the day being Saturday and a school holiday, — 
went out into the street, and a little while after I 
saw them go by on horseback, the lad on the 
pony, which, instead of being vicious, was now 
merely f idl of spirit. As they rode away, I no- 
ticed (and not for the first time) a striking resem- 
blance between the two — a resemblance that was 
not confined to their pose and gestures, but was 
carried out in the profiles of their faces ; and I 
wondered whether this man was playing a part, 
whether the story he had told us about the child 
was not a fabrication. It was an idle thought, and 
I did not pursue it far, keeping my eye on the 
door of Colonel Bullard's house. I desired to see 
how long the stranger would remain, yet I knew 
that such curiosity was vulgar and unworthy. It re- 
mained ungratified, too, for the stranger failed to 
issue forth from the house while I sat in my room. 
I judged from this that he had found a warm wel- 
come there, which was, indeed, the fact, as we found 
out from Mary, who declared with a laugh that her 
mother was entertaining one of her old beaux. 

" You should see her," Mary said to sister Jane. 
" You can't realize the change. I went into the 
parlor to entertain him while mamma was primp- 



306 SISTER JANE. 

ing, and I thought I was succeeding pretty well. 
But when mamma came sweeping in, looking like 
a girl, she cast poor me into the shade. ' Why, 
Fanny ! ' said the gentleman, ' you look hardly a 
day older than you did the day I last saw you,' 
and in the midst of their compliments I slipped 
out. And — just think of it ! — they never missed 
me I Don't you think it is too bad, Mr. William," 
she went on turning to me, " that a poor girl should 
have a mamma as young as she is ? " 

" No, indeed ! " I replied stoutly ; " not when 
the mamma is as beautiful and as charming as the 
daughter." 

Sister Jane paused in her work, whatever it was 
(for she was never idle a moment save when she 
was sound asleep), and looked hard at me, an'S 
Mary opened her eyes wide. 

" William is coming out," said sister Jane. 
" He 's been to the asylum in a carriage, and he 's 
got charge of a tumble-down plantation, where the 
buzzards are setting on the fence, waiting for the 
mules and cows to die of starvation. Why, a month 
ago he 'd no more 'a' spoke a piece like that, jest 
dry so without any provocation, than he 'd 'a' 
jumped in the Oconee River with his clothes on." 

" No, I don't thiuk he 's coming out at aU," re- 
marked Mary, laughing at sister Jane's good-na- 
tured sarcasm. " It does n't seem natural to hear 
him paying compliments. Yet it was such a neat 
and pretty one I think we should forgive him this 
time. Mamma would, I know." 



TWO STRANGERS ARRIVE. 307 

" For one of my age " — I tried to speak as 
blandly as I knew how, but I could feel my voice 
shake a little — " it should have been a compliment 
to the mamma, but it was n't." 

Sister Jane pretended to heave a sigh of relief. 
" I declare, William ! when you said ' one of my 
age,' I thought you were going ahead and speak 
that piece about ' appearing in public on the stage,' 
and I says to myself, ' Laws have mercy ! Maybe 
we 've gone and left the wrong folks at the asy- 
lum.' " 

I sometimes thought that sister Jane pushed her 
humorous comments too far, and this was one of the 
occasions ; but Mary neither laughed nor paid any 
attention to the remark. 

" You are indeed venerable, Mr. William," she 
said lightly. " After a while I shall have to lend 
you a crutch. We have a pair somewhere about 
the house." 

I felt grateful to her for passing ofp so serious a 
matter as a joke, and I looked my thanks, if I did 
not speak them. 

" William's age is like the moonshine," remarked 
sister Jane ; " bright enough to blind, but not hot 
enough to burn. It 's a disease with him. He '11 
be old long before his time." 

" What I mean," said I, " is that I am old as 
compared with Mary." 

" Oh, is that it ? " cried Mary. " Then I am old 
and decrepit as compared with Mr. Cowardin's 
little boy. It is dreadful to be so old. I '11 limp 



308 SISTER JANE. 

home and see whether our famous company has 
gone, or whether he is to stay to tea." She limped 
from the room, but, the moment she was outside, 
ran along the garden walk as nimbly and as grace- 
fidly as a fawn. 

The gentleman stayed to tea, and for some time 
afterwards, and we heard that night what was new 
to our ears — the rippling, musical laughter of 
Mrs. BuUard come floating across the garden. 

" Fanny Brandon 's come to life again," re- 
marked sister Jane grimly, when she heard it. 

The next day or the day after, Grandsir Koach 
and Uncle Jimmy Cosby came knocking at our 
door, as they had done many times since Mandy 
Satterlee took up her abode with us, and I M'as 
glad of it, for they always had something both sen- 
sible and cheerful to say. Their visits seemed to 
make Mandy brighter, being the strongest evidence 
that she still had a hold on the hearts of those who 
had known her in her happier days. These old 
friends came now, bearing gifts. There were some 
dozens of fresh eggs and a few pounds of butter 
for sister Jane, some yards of checked cloth for 
Mandy, and some socks, a knit jacket, a pair of 
mittens, and a cloth hat for Klibs, Mandy's baby. 
Grandsir Roach explained the matter : — 

" When I seed what Sally and Prue was a-doin' 

— or as you may say, what they had done gone 
an' done, for I never know'd what 'pon top of the 
green globe they was a-doin' ontil it was done done 

— when I seed how big it looked to bring, an' how 



TWO STRANGERS ARRIVE. 309 

little it 'd look arter it was brung, I says to 'em, 
says I, ' What in the name of sense are you two 
wimmen a-doin' ? Don't you know in reason that 
this little bunch of eggs an' this here little dab of 
butter will look mighty poor an' small by the side 
of the store what Jane has already got laid in ? ' 
says I. I leave it to Brother Cosby here." 

" He said them very words," remarked this will- 
ing witness. " ' They '11 look poor an' small,' says 
he, ' by the side of the store what Jane has already 
got laid in,' says he." 

Grandsir Roach looked relieved. " An' Sally 

— it mought 'a' been Prue, but I think 't was Sally 

— says, says she, 'Well, I don't keer how they 
look ; the eggs is new laid an' the butter is fresh 
made, an' we '11 send 'em anyhow, let 'em look 
ever so small by the side of what Jane 's got,' says 
she." 

" Well, goodness knows," sister Jane began, but 
Grandsir Eoach closed his eyes, pressed his lips 
together, shook his head, and lifted his hand. He 
would not be interrupted, and sister Jane was com- 
pelled to pause and listen. 

" 'T was uther Sally or Prue, I '11 not be too 
mighty certain which, an' she says, says she, ' Let 
'em look small as they will by the side of what 
Jane 's got, we '11 send 'em anyhow,' says she, ' be- 
kaze it hain't the size, or the heft, or the wuth of 
the things — it 's the intent,' says she." He turned 
his head slowly and looked at his companion for 
confirmation. 



310 BISTER JANE. 

" You 've got eve'y twist and turn of the dis- 
course, Brotlier Roach," said Uncle Jimmy Cosby ; 
" you 've got it pat. 'T was uther Prue or Sally, 
I '11 not say which. ' It 's not the heft of what 's 
in the hamper,' says she, ' it 's the intent what goes 
wi' it for good measure,' says she. Whichever an' 
whatsoever it was, she said them very words." 

" Well, may the Lord bless the good old souls ! " 
exclaimed sister Jane with real enthusiasm. " Jest 
tell 'em that if there was but one egg and but one 
spoonful of butter, I 'd be glad to have it. It 'd be 
a sign they had me in their minds, and what more 
do I want than that ? " 

" We '11 tell 'em, Jane ; we shorely will. It '11 
make 'em both feel better," said Grandsir Eoach. 

" Yes 'm," remarked Uncle Jimmy Cosby, 
" we shorely tell 'em, an' they '11 be might'ly holp 
up — might'ly holp up." 

" Mandy, honey, did Sandy tell you wharabouts 
he 'd been at, an' all he 'd saw sence he 's been 
gone ? " asked Grandsir Roach. 

" Who — Bud ? " cried Mandy. " Why, I hain't 
laid livin' eyes on Bud, not sence the day he come 
an' tol' me good-by." 

" You hain't ! " exclaimed Grandsir Eoach. He 
turned his eyes solemnly on Uncle Jimmy Cosby. 
" You hear that, Brother Cosby ! Mandy hain't 
seed nuther ha'r nor hide of Sandy, not sence the 
day she told him good-by ! " 

" Tooby shore ! Tooby shore ! " said Uncle 
Jimmy Cosby in sad surprise. " You may well say 



TWO STRANGERS ARRIVE. 311 

' tooby shore,' Brother Cosby," remarked Grandsir 
Roach. 

"Yes," replied Uncle Jimmy Cosby, "bekaze we 
seed him no longer 'n yistiddy." 

" Bud ? You seed Bud? " cried Mandy. 

" With our four eyes," replied Grandsir Roach 
solemnly. " An' more 'n that, we teched him with 
our hands, an' talked wi' 'im by word of mouth." 

" A true word ! We seed 'im wi' our four eyes ! " 
echoed Uncle Jimmy Cosby. " As true a word as 
ever was spoke." 

" An' you reely seed Bud ! " Mandy's voice was 
low, as though she knew not what to say. She 
seemed to be dazed. 

" As plain as we see you a-standin' thar," said 
Grandsir Roach. " We not only seed him, we 
talked wi' 'im ; we not only talked wi' 'im, we shuck 
hands wi' 'im, an' passed the time of day." 

" Percizely ! " responded Uncle Jimmy Cosby. 

" I says to him, says I, ' Sandy, your cloze is all 
right, but you look stove up. You look much as 
if you 'd been drug thoo a hot sandbank feet fore- 
most.' I said them very words. ' What in the 
nation is the matter wi' you ? ' says I." 

" He says, says he, ' Grandsir, you ought to 
know as well as me. You know I 've had fam'ly 
troubles,' says he. Says I, ' Sandy, the only fam'ly 
trouble I ever know'd you to have was Dram,' 
says I. ' You had it by the time you could vote, 
if not before, an' you 've got it yit, or your breath 
belies you,' says I." 



312 SISTER JANE. 

" Oh, don't blame Bud — blame me ! " cried 
Mandy. " Lay all the blame on me ! " 

"You hear that, Jane, "William, an' Brother 
Cosby ? " said Grandsir E,oach solemnly, almost 
reproachfully. " It 's mighty few things you could 
ax me, honey, that I would n't run an' jump to do, 
but I '11 be danged if I do that." 

" What did I say to you. Brother Roach ? " in- 
quired Uncle Jimmy Cosby indignantly, " Did n't 
I say to you right before his face that Sandy Sat- 
terlee was a triflin' vagabon' frorti the day he put 
on britches ? Did n't I teU him so, an' dar' him 
to take it up ? " 

" You did. Brother Cosby ; I '11 say that for you. 
You shorely did." 

" If Bud 's a vagabon' I 'm the cause of it," said 
Mandy. " I know it an' feel it. Oh, me ! " 

She placed her hands before her face to hide 
her tears. At this sister Jane stepped forward, 
caught hold of Mandy's hands, and forcibly 
pulled them away from her face. 

" Look at me, Mandy ! " she said sternly ; " that s 
not the truth, and you know it, and if you don't 
know it it 's because you 've got the tenderest, lov- 
ingest heart that ever beat." 

" Oh, I don't want it to be the truth," cried 
Mandy, " but I 'm afeard it is — I 'm afeard it is ! " 

" Thank you, Jane ! Thank you kindly for 
that," said Grandsir Roach. " Brother Cosby an' 
me can set an' think, an' we do a heap of it fust an' 
last, but not like you, Jane. You know how to 



TWO STRANGERS ARRIVE. 313 

say the right word. Good-by, Jane ; good-by, 
honey, ontell you see me ag'in. Me an' Brother 
Cosby have got to be a-makiu' our departure. 
We '11 drap in before long — an' may God bless 
you all ! " 

Uncle Jimmy Cosby shook hands in silence until 
he came to Mandy. He held her hand a moment 
in both of his, patted it gently, and said : — 

" Don't fret, honey ; don't fret. We 're con- 
stant a-thinkin' about you." 



XXII. 

AN ANGRY WOMAN. 

Mandt seemed to be very mueli troubled be- 
cause her brother, whom she had not seen for so 
many years, had ignored her on his return, and 
she wondered why it was so, and grieved over it as 
a woman will. 

" He started out as a vagabond," said sister 
Jane in her matter-of-fact way, " and he 's got 
worse and worse. You may thank your stars 
that he 's done gone and forgot aU about you. 
He ain't worth a thought." 

But this explanation was not satisfactory to 
Mandy. " I 'm to blame," she repeated over and 
over again. " I 'm the one that 's to blame. Ef 
it had n't but 'a' been for me, he 'd 'a' stayed here 
at home, an' maybe he 'd 'a' been doin' well by 
this time. Oh, me ! " 

"Was he doing well before he went away?" 
sister Jane inquired. 

" Well, he was gittin' ready to go to work an' 
settle down," was Mandy's reply. 

" It frets me to hear you talk so," sister Jane 
insisted. " He 's never done a hand's turn in his 
life, and he never will. He was born trifling 



AN ANGRY WOMAN. 315 

and tie 's stayed so. He ain't worth the wrappings 
of your little finger. He '11 never put his foot in- 
side my gate, not if I know it." 

Sin has a long arm, but Mandy gave it credit 
for having a longer. So she worried herself over 
her brother day after day. But he never came to 
see her, and when he did come, it seemed to be 
mightily against his will. 

When Jiney Meadows made his visit to Mandy 
he brought news of her brother, and, although it 
was puzzling to me, it seemed to be the most satis- 
fying that she had heard. 

" I reckon maybe you ain't seen much of Sandy 
sence he took up his residence with the dry cattle," 
said Jincy. 

" I hain't laid eyes on him," replied Mandy, 
" bekaze he hain't been a-nigh me." 

" And he ain't comin' if he can help it," Jincy 
went on. " Why, he 's a sight to behold, Sandy is. 
What he 's got on his mind, I can't tell you, be- 
cause I don't know, but it 's lots bigger than he 's 
got room for — I can tell you that." 

" Oh, I know he 's troubled about me," cried 
Mandy. 

" You would n't say so if you could see him," 
said Jincy. " He goes about the woods like a 
stray steer. If he had horns and know'd how to bel- 
low, he 'd be the identical thing itself. His voice 
is as squeaky as if he 'd been callin' out the figgers 
at a stag dance. He 's got horns, but he gits 'em 
out of a bottle." 



316 SISTER JANE. 

"Yes — I know," cried Mandy. "I 've drove 
him to drink." 

" There you go ! " exclaimed Jincy. " Ain't I 
tellin' you that Sandy 's done something he 's sorry 
for ? You know what sort of a chap he is better 'n 
I do, and I know him toler'ble well. I run up on 
him in the woods the other day. He was settin' at 
the foot of a tree dozin' like, and close to his head 
was a bottle. Says I, ' Sandy, what 's the word ? ' 
says he, ' Jincy, if I was as happy as you it would 
be a good word.' Says I, ' If I was sorry, Sandy, 
I would n't try to drown it in the flowin' bowl, nor 
in the bottle neither.' Says he, ' The bowl that 's 
big enough to drown mine in ain't never been 
made, Jincy.' Says I, ' Sandy, have you been to 
see your sister sence you got back ? ' Says he, 
' Jincy, I could n't bear to have Mandy look at 
me. I used to rail at her,' says he, ' but she 's too 
good to so much as look at me.' " 

"Did he say that?" asked Mandy in a low 
voice. 

" He did," said Jincy, " and more ! " 

I thought to myself that if it was a piece of 
Jincy's own invention it was done cleverly and 
in a good cause. 

" What more ? " Mandy inquired. 

" He says, ' The next time you see Mandy, 
Jincy, tell her howdy, and tell her that if I 'd 'a' 
done as she wanted me to do I 'd 'a' been better 
off than I am right now or ever will be ag'in.' " 

" Poor Bud ! I never was so sorry for anybody 



AN ANGRY WOMAN. 317 

in my life ! " Mandy sighed deeply, and no doubt 
would have wept if Jincy had n't been sitting close 
by with his Sunday clothes on. Nevertheless, it 
was something of a relief to her to feel that she 
was not directly responsible for her brother's con- 
dition of mind and body. 

A day or two afterwards Mr. Cowardin called 
me aside. " I 've found my man," he said. "The 
man we saw with our friend Moreland," he ex- 
plained, seeing that I did not follow him. 

" Where is he ? " I inquired in rather an aim- 
less way. 

" In my room," he replied. " He 's a little 
shaky, and needs bolstering up, but as sure as 
you 're born, the fellow has information in him. 
Why, he 's an old traveling companion of mine. 
He was in the wagon train that I carried to Cali- 
fornia. He 's as cold-blooded a scoundrel as I ever 
saw," Mr. Cowardin continued almost savagely, 
" and I expect to have many a pleasant hour with 
him." 

I did n't pretend to understand this, but it was 
all the explanation I could get at the time. Mr. 
Cowardin went off in high glee, apparently, and 
we saw little of him, except at meal-times, for two 
or three days. 

Meanwhile, Mr. Moreland, the Virginian gentle- 
man, was a daily visitor at Colonel BuUard's. If 
he wasn't there in the afternoons he was there 
after tea. The Colonel's wife evidently found him 
very agreeable company, for on more than one 



318 SISTER JANE. 

occasion we saw her riding out behind his hand- 
some bays, to the great astonishment of the 
villagers. It could not be denied that they made 
a handsome couple as they whirled through the 
streets in the buggy drawn by the high-stepping 
horses. The Colonel's wife seemed to have grown 
very much younger. Her eyes sparkled with some- 
thing of the ardor of youth, and color began to 
show in her face. She came to see sister Jane 
once after she had been riding with Mr. More- 
land, and I could imagine how beautiful she had 
been in her youth. Indeed, she was not so old 
now, and only a little excitement and exercise in 
congenial company were necessary to make her a 
very handsome woman. I could see that, and I 
wondered if Colonel Bullard himself was so blind 
that he failed to perceive the necessity of provid- 
ing the gentle stimulant of congenial company and 
outdoor exercise for his wife. 

Such was my thought, and I have remembered 
it and smiled a hundred times over its shallow in- 
consequence, for, right upon its heels, I found my- 
self the unwilling spectator of an episode so ex- 
travagant and sensational as to cause me to doubt 
the evidence of my own eyes and ears. 

Of one episode, did I say ? It never rains but it 
pours, and for a time I seemed to be overwhelmed 
with a flood of the most painful experiences that 
could be imagined. And yet in these, as in the 
ordinary affairs of life, the hand of Providence 
was guiding, and the fact struck me with such force 



AN ANGRY WOMAN. 319 

as to enable me to fortify my mind and to main- 
tain a confidence in liuman nature that otherwise 
would have been sadly shaken. 

I said awhile ago that the Colonel's wife came 
to visit sister Jane after one of her rides with 
Mr. Moreland. As matters turned out, it was 
her last ride with that person. That night sister 
Jane and myself were sitting in her room, talking 
about poor Mrs. Beshears and the affairs of her 
estate, when we heard Mr. Cowardin enter the 
house. We knew him by the firm way in which 
he walked. He came along the hall, paused as if 
listening, and then, coming to sister Jane's room, 
rapped lightly on the lintel, the door being partly 
closed. 

" Come in and tell us howdy," isaid sister Jane. 

Mr. Cowardin came in, looked about the room, 
and then went to the door again and looked up 
and down the hallway. 

" I saw a buggy standing at the door," he ex- 
plained, " and I was certain you had company." 

" A buggy ! " cried sister Jane. " Why, what 
upon earth ! " 

" Mr. Moreland's team," said Mr. Cowardin. " I 
thought the gentleman had come to shake hands 
all around." His tone was half serious, half sar- 
castic. 

" When I want to shake hands with a demi- 
john," remarked sister Jane, " I 'U go over to the 
tavern and shake hands with a new one." 

Ordinarily, Mr. Cowardin would have laughed 



320 SISTER JANE. 

at this comment, but now he did not even smile. 
He stood in the floor with his hands in his pock- 
ets, and stared steadily at the dim flame of the 
candle that was sputtering on the stand close to 
sister Jane's head as she leaned over her sewing. 

" You know the fellow I was hunting for and 
found," he said, turning his eyes on me. " Well, 
lie 's an interesting person. He 's a little shaky on 
his feet, but he 's sober now, as he says, for the 
first time in several years. He 's full of informa- 
tion, and some of it will surprise you as much as 
it did me. He told me something that I thought 
was a preposterous lie, but I 'm afraid it 's the 
truth. At any rate we shall soon see." 

Pat upon the word, we heard a rustle in the 
hallway, the light tread of nimble feet, and the 
next moment Mrs. Bvillard entered. She seemed 
to be arranged for a journey. She had on a dove- 
colored frock, the soberest garment I had ever seen 
her wear. She had entered the room apparently 
in great haste, but paused as she saw Mr. Co war- 
din. He made way for her, lifted his hat, and, 
without speaking, turned and went outside the 
door into the hall. The surprise that the Colonel's 
wife felt on seeing him showed plainly in her face 
and manner, but she recovered herself almost im- 
mediately. 

" I 've just come to say good-by, Jane. I 'm go- 
ing back to my home and people. You know what 
my life has been here, but you don't know all. 
You don't know what I know. Just think of a 



AN ANGRY WOMAN. 321 

Brandon, Jane, leading the dog's life I have led. 
Go out to-morrow and look at the big kennel on 
the corner, and thank God that Fanny Brandon 
has broken the chain at last." 

"Why, what on earth is the matter?" asked 
sister Jane. " You talk like a crazy person." 

" Don't ask me, Jane — don't ask me ! You 'U 
find out soon enough. Crazy ! I have never had 
a sane moment until this hour ! Where is Mandy 
Satterlee ? I must thank that woman for giving 
me an excuse for leaving the people I loathe and 
the life I hate ! " 

She had worked herself into a grand passion, 
and she seemed to me to be more beautiful the 
more furious she grew. Mandy, who was in the 
room across the hall, came in just then. 

" Did anybody caU me ? " she asked. Seeing 
Mrs. BuUard, she blushed. " I declare, I 'm a 
sight to be comin' in here. I did n't know yoa 
had company." 

" Never mind the company, Mandy Satterlee ! " 
exclaimed the Colonel's wife. " I 'm going away 
from here, and I 've called to tell you good-by and 
to thank you for what you 've done for me." 

" What I 've done for you ! " Even by the dim 
light of the sputtering candle I could see Mandy's 
face grow white. 

" JoM know what it is, Mandy Satterlee ! You 
know well, and I want to thank you. Who could 
have thought that you would have been the one to 
give me freedom ? " 



322 SISTER JANE. 

" Oh, me ! Oh, have n't I had trouble enough ? " 
Mandy's cry was a heart-rending one. It was a 
note of anguish, of self-condemnation, and an ap- 
peal for mercy. I hope never to hear such a cry 
again either in this world or the next. She threw 
herself on the floor by the side of a chair, leaning 
heavily across it, the picture of misery and de- 
spair. 

The Colonel's wife went close to Mandy and 
stood above her with clenched hands, breathing 
hard. 

" Oh, to think of it ! " she exclaimed, turning to 
sister Jane with tragic hints in her eyes. " To 
think that she " — the Colonel's wife raised her 
hand and pointed at Mandy with a gesture of rage 
and scorn — " to think that she should have been 
the one ! Why, Jane," — she lowered her voice 
almost to a whisper, — "I loved that man ! You 
would n't believe it, would you ? I loved him — 
but now I hate him — oh, I loathe the very air he 
breathes ! " 

" Oh, why — why can't I die ? " moaned Mandy. 

" Die ! " cried the Colonel's wife. " Why do 
you want to die? Who are you, and what are 
you ? I am the one to die — and I am dead to 
that man. Oh, the miserable creature ! Why did 
Satan throw him in my way ? " 

At that moment Mr. Cowardin appeared in the 
doorway and motioned me to him, whereupon I 
hastened out of the room, glad of any sort of an 
excuse to fly from a scene so paralyzing. I re- 



^JV ANOBY WOMAN. 323 

member that I was glad to feel I coiJd use my 
limbs at all. Once out of tbe room I breathed 
freer. 

In the dark hallway, Mr. Cowardin laid his hand 
on my shoulder. " If she starts away," he said, 
" detain her. Use force if necessary. Within 
twenty-four hours she '11 thank you for all the 
bruises you give her." 

He turned and went swiftly out into the street. 
What he did there he told me within half an hour. 
He went to the buggy, and leaned against it, 
placing one hand on the framework and the other 
on the whip-thimble. 

" The lady sends word that she can't come," he 
said. " She says the gentleman must go away with 
all possible speed." 

The occupant of the vehicle was Moreland, and 
he seemed to be more than half drunk. 

" Where 's Fanny ? " he cried. " I saw her go 
in the house there. Let her bring her own mes- 
sages. Go back and teU Fanny that I '11 not go 
till she herself tells me to." 

Meanwhile, Mr. Cowardin had hardly reached 
the street before the Colonel's wife went to sister 
Jane and laid a hand on her arm as of old. 
" Good-by, Jane ! You are a good woman. All 
the rest of us are devils. Where 's William ? " 

She came out into the hallway as she asked for 
me, and I stepped forward and barred the way. 
She seemed surprised at this, and I thought the 
shadow of a contemptuous smile flitted across her 



324 SISTER JANE. 

face, but I was not certain ; yet the bare tbougbt 
of it rendered me less infirm of purpose than be- 
fore. 

" You seem to be glad to see me go, William," 
she said, taking the hand I held out to stay her 
passage. " Well, it is natural. We have long 
misunderstood each other : you have taken me to 
be a fraud, and I have judged you to be a fool. 
Right or wrong, we are quits. Good-by." 

" No, Mrs. BuUard," I said with a firmness that 
was as surprising to me as it was to her, " it is not 
good-by. You are to remain here." 

She looked hard at me as if trying to read my 
mind. " Then you are a fool," she said through 
her clenched teeth. With a strength for which I 
was totally unprepared, she wrenched her hand 
from mine and whisked past me in the hallway like 
a shadow. She was fleet, but I reached the outer 
door as she did, and placed both hands against it, 
holding it shut with all my weight and strength, 
knowing now that I had to deal with a desperate 
woman. 

But even this knowledge did not prepare me for 
the tactics she employed. She seized me below 
the waist, dragged me suddenly backwards, and I 
fell prone upon my hands and knees. Before I 
could recover myself, she had wrenched the door 
open and was gone. But she never crossed the 
sidewalk. As she jumped through the door I heard 
Mr. Cowardin exclaim : — 

" Look to yourself, sir ! " and then I heard a re- 



AN ANGRY WOMAN. 325 

port like a pistol. He had seized the whip and 
brought it down npon the backs of the horses with 
a blow so powerful that it sounded like an explo- 
sion. The creatures gave one leap forward, and 
then broke into a wild run. Fortunately they kept 
in the middle of the street, and in a few moments, 
as we three stood listening, we heard them settle 
down into a steady gallop, which showed that the 
man in the buggy, drunk as he might be, had 
them under control. 

" I 'm sorry I did n't hit the man instead of the 
horses," said Mr. Cowardin. 

" Perhaps you '11 be pleased to lay it on my 
back," said Mrs. BuUard with smothered rage. 
She rushed toward him, and tried to wrench the 
whip from his hand. But she made only one ef- 
fort. The knowledge of her impotence suddenly 
overcame her, and all her strength left her. She 
would have fallen to the ground but for the sus- 
taining arm of Mr. Cowardin. But, such was her 
versatility, if I may use the word here, that she 
recovered almost immediately. 

" Don't touch me ! " she exclaimed savagely. 

" I 'U not hurt you, madam," said Mr. Cowardin 
geiitly. " If I have come between you and your 
designs, it was not for your sake, but for the sake 
of one I love dearly. You '11 thank me for what 
I 've done, when I tell you the news I have for 
you. But we must go inside." 

" I have nowhere else to go," she said simply. 
" I '11 not go back yonder ; I '11 die first ! " She 



326 SISTER JANE. 

stretclied a hand toward her home, looming up cold, 
dark, and solemn in the darkness. " Who are you, 
sir, that you are bold enough to take advantage of 
a weak woman whom you know nothing of and 
who has done you no harm?" Her rage rose 
again as she turned toward Mr. Cowardin. 

"Madam, with the exception of your husband 
and your own family no one in the world has a 
better right to do what I have done," he answered. 
" I have some news for you that is of more im- 
portance than anything that has happened to you 
during your whole life." 

" It is not true, sir," she replied. " I have lost 
my son, I have lost my husband, and I have given 
up my home. What could be more important than 
these things ? " 

" Come inside," said Mr. Cowardin. 

" Yes, for the Lord's sake, Fanny, come in ! " 
exclaimed sister Jane from the darkness of the 
doorway, and her voice brought us all back to the 
realities of every-day life. For my part, I was be- 
ginning to forget on which end I stood, so astound- 
ing were the transactions that had taken place 
before my eyes. 

" Excuse me, Jane," said Mrs. Bullard in a 
more natural tone ; "I had forgotten where I 
was." 

She went in, and Mr. Cowardin and I followed. 
The Colonel's wife was calm enough when she 
got inside the door — almost too calm, it seemed 
to me, after the tremendous outbreak that has 



AN ANGRY WOMAN. 327 

been described. But I could see that the fires of 
anger still glowed in her eyes ; she was calm, but 
still desperate. 

The noise that had been made had aroused 
Klibs from his innocent sleep, and Mandy was 
holding him close against her bosom when we 
returned to the room. Hearing our footsteps, 
and possibly suspecting that we had succeeded in 
detaining Mrs. Bullard, the unfortunate young- 
mother had moved her chair to the darkest corner 
of the room, where, with her back hair falling over 
her shoulders and her child hugged to her breast, 
she could safely hide from human eyes whatever 
emotion she felt. 

"Now, sir," said the Colonel's wife, turning to 
Mr. Cowardin, " what is the information you have 
for me ? I hope it is important enough to excuse 
your unmannerly — yes, your unmanly — conduct 
to-night. Don't think you 'd be standing there or 
I here if I were a man ; or if there was a man in 
this miserable community to whom I might appeal 
for protection. Wait ! " she said, as Mr. Cowardin 
made a movement as if to speak. Her voice was 
hard and cold. " Wait ! Don't imagine for a 
moment that I will believe a word you say. After 
what I 've seen of your actions to-night, I know 
you are capable of any lie. I want to hear how 
you are going to excuse yourself." Her Virginian 
blood and grit showed to advantage here, undoubt- 
edly, and I began to admire her. 

Mr. Cowardin regarded her with kindly eyes 



328 SISTER JANE. 

and his voice was very gentle when he spoke. 
" Madam, if you think you can afford to wait here 
five minutes until I can go across the street and 
return, I shall try to make good my promise." He 
paused expectantly. 

" What can I do but await your pleasure and 
convenience?" she asked with a contemptuous 
smile. " Owing to you, I have nowhere to go even 
if I were not disposed to wait. Pray where could 
I go?" 

Mr. Cowardin regarded her with a puzzled look. 
He seemed to doubt whether he had followed her 
meaning. At that moment neither he nor I had 
the key to either her words or her extraordinary 
actions. But he turned and walked down the hall- 
way. Just as he reached the door we heard a 
hasty knocking. He opened the door almost be- 
fore the knocking ceased. Then we heard the 
voice of Colonel Bullard. 

" William ! have you seen " — Here Mr. Cow- 
ardin interrupted, but we coidd not hear the words. 
" Excuse me, sir ; in the dark I mistook you for 
William, who is an old friend of mine. Show me 
the way. I must see Jane and William ! " 

At the same moment the Colonel's wife whisked 
out and across the hall. I saw her enter the room 
that had been given up to Mandy. 



XXIII. 

COLONEL BULLARD'S TROUBLES. 

As Colonel BuUard entered the room I saw that 
a great change had come over him. His gait was 
unsteady. A letter or paper that he held in his 
hand shook as though he had been seized with a 
rigor. 

Sister Jane did not wait for him to speak. She 
rose and stood looking at him. " Cephas Bullard, 
you are the very last person in the world that I 
ever expected to see darken my door after know- 
ing what I know and you knowing that I know it 
— the very last person in the world." But her 
voice had no note of surprise in it ; on the con- 
trary it was charged with indignation. 

" I was compelled to come, Jane. My darling 
wife has left me ; here is her letter. I am a ruined 
man, Jane. Have you seen Fanny? Has she 
been here, William ? " 

" Yes, Colonel, she has," I replied. 

" She came to say good-by," remarked sister 
Jane. 

" Where was she going, Jane ? What did she 
say ? Did she leave any word for me ? Did n't 
she send me some message? Oh, I know her 



330 SISTER JANE. 

heart, Jane, and I never will believe that she went 
away from me without leaving me some word more 
satisfactory than this." He held the letter on a 
level with his eyes, his hand trembling so that the 
paper made a rattling noise. 

" She said she was going away from this hate- 
ful place for good and all," explained sister Jane. 
" She did n't tell me her reasons, and I did n't 
ask her, because I know'd 'em well enough." 

" Don't be too hard on me, Jane," he pleaded. 

" It 's not me that 's hard on you, Cephas Bul- 
lard. It 's your own wickedness." 

" Oh, it 's true, Jane ! it 's aU true ! But if you 
only knew how I have suffered ; if you only knew 
the agony I 've endured." He paused as if seek- 
ing sympathy, but he got none. I was shocked at 
sister Jane's manner until she spoke again, and 
then the whole truth that I had been utterly blind 
to before burst upon me, and it brought with it a 
feeling of disgust for Colonel Bullard that I was 
long in overcoming. 

" I reckon it 's so fixed that other folks can suf- 
fer some as well as you," said sister Jane. 

She stretched forth her hand and pointed to 
Mandy Satterlee, who was bending so low above 
her child that she seemed to be crouching in the 
rocking-chair. Colonel Bullard's glance followed 
the direction of sister Jane's gesture, and he shrank 
back as his eye fell on Mandy. 

"You are right, Jane, and I am wrong," he 
cried in a broken voice. " I 'm a terrible sinner, 



COLONEL BULLARD'S TROUBLES. 331 

Jane. That is wliy my dear wife has left me. 
That man Moreland told her about my wretched 
sinfulness, and I confessed it, Jane. I didn't 
spare myself. I ought to have told her long ago ; 
but it is a fearful thing to confess, Jane, and I 
never had the courage. It is a terrible thing to 
do, — and yet " (the Colonel lowered his voice) 
" I thought — oh, I fondly hoped, Jane — that my 
dear wife would forgive me. And I shall always 
believe that she would have forgiven me if she 
had known how I love her. That will be my only 
comfort, Jane, if I ever have any peace of mind 
at all ! " 

I could but remark how, even in the midst of 
his penitence, he seemed to regard his own trouble 
and his own misery as of more importance than 
all other troubles and miseries put together. It is 
the way of the world, especially the way of man. 
I have seen women who could put their own trou- 
bles aside to sympathize with the miseries of others, 
but I have never seen one of my own sex who had 
the courage or the generous impulse to make the 
attempt. 

" You say she 's been here, Jane," said Colonel 
BuUard, after a pause, during which he re-read the 
letter in his hand, holding it close to the candle. 
It was a very brief note, as I could see, and doubt- 
less had the rare merit of terseness. 

" She came to tell us good-by," remarked sister 
Jane, "but she spun it out into a good many 
words." 



332 SISTER JANE. 

" "What did she say, Jane ? Did she seem to 
be particularly bitter against me? Oh, that I 
could have seen her for one moment ! " he ex- 
claimed in a despairing tone. 

" It 's jest as well you did n't," said sister Jane, 
with an abundant lack of sympathy in her voice. 
" You know Fanny Brandon most as well as I 
do, I reckon, and you can figure to yourself about 
what she said." 

" That 's the way she signed herself here — 
' Fanny Brandon.' " The Colonel spoke as if he 
had heard nothing that sister Jane said save his 
wife's maiden name. He repeated it again — 
" Fanny Brandon " — and then slowly placed the 
letter in his pocket and clasped his hands behind 
him. 

" I '11 not deny that I expected to find her here, 
Jane," he said after a pause. " At least I hoped 
to find her here. But that is not all I came for." 
He turned to me as a source from which he might 
expect more sympathy than sister Jane had shown 
him. " I came, "William, to make what reparation 
I can. Surely, surely, it is not yet too late for me 
to do that. It ought to have been made long ago ; 
but it is not too late — don't tell me it is too late." 

Before I could make any reply — indeed, I 
knew not what to say — sister Jane spoke. 
" What do you mean by that ? " she asked. 

Colonel BuUard hesitated, and then drew from 
his pocket a roll of bank bills, and laid it on the 
candle-stand. Released from the pressure of con- 



COLONEL BULLARD'S TROUBLES. 333 

fiaement the bills slowly swelled out, and would 
have fallen to the floor had not the Colonel reached 
forth and placed his hand upon them. 

" Here is a sum of money, William. I want 
you to take it and invest it for the benefit of Miss 
Satterlee and her child. If the sum seems too 
small, I am willing to double it at your sugges- 
tion." 

It was curious how the voice of the Colonel 
assumed a business-like tone when he came to speak 
of a money transaction. Mechanically I reached 
my hand to take the money, but I drew it back 
quickly at a word from Mandy Satterlee. She had 
risen from the rocking-chair, and now stood not 
far from sister Jane. She had placed her sleeping 
child on the sofa. Both hands were held to her 
head as if to prevent her hair from falling about 
her face. "With a sweeping gesture she flung her 
hair behind her and stretched forth her arm, point- 
ing at the Colonel. 

"Take your money away from here ! Take it 
away ! I would n't tetch it, not to save my own 
life — much less your'n ! Take it out'n my sight ! 
I never said a word ag'in you in my life ; not by 
word or look have I ever laid any of my trouble 
at your door ; and yit here you come wi' money ! 
Miss Jane," she went on, turning to my sister, 
" this man 's a-takin' a mighty heap on hisself. It 's 
a lot more my trouble than it 's his'n. I was out 
there in the woods, lonesome, an' I wanted somethin' 
I could call mine — somethin' that 'd be my own 



334 SISTER JANE. 

— somethin' that nobody on the wide earth would 
dast to claim. Here it is ! " She stepped swiftly 
to the sofa and kissed her child, and as swiftly 
returned. " I never dreamed of the trouble an' 
misery it 'd bring on me an' other folks, an' I 've 
suffered, an' I 'm mighty sorry, — I '11 allers be 
sorry, — but I 'm the one that s to blame. Make 
him put up his money, Miss Jane." 

Oh, the passion of motherhood ! For the first 
time in my life I began to realize its nature — its 
weakness and its strength. 

"What can I do, William?" said the Colonel. 
" I 've lost my son, my wife, and I can turn no- 
where for comfort and peace." 

"Oh, yes, you can," exclaimed sister Jane. 
" Where 's your Bible, I 'd like to know, and where 
are your prayers ? " 

" No, Jane ; I 'm the vilest hypocrite that ever 
breathed the breath of life." 

" If you reely think that, Cephas BuUard, you 're 
already a long ways on the road to'rds forgiveness," 
said sister Jane. 

" It is well enough to talk that way, Jane, but 
my wife is gone. If you knew her as I know her 
you would know what that means. Jane, I love 
that woman. She '11 never forgive me, and she has 
run away with a man she used to know when she 
was a girl ; but if she were to come back to-night, 
to-morrow, or a year from now I 'd be glad to for- 
give her." 

" You would? " cried sister Jane. 



COLONEL BULLARD'S TROUBLES. 335 

" Most assuredly, Jane." 

" Well, you 're one among a thousand." 

Sister Jane had hardly spoken the words before 
the Colonel's wife glided into the room, and laid 
her hand on his arm. 

" Did you say you could forgive me ? " she cried. 
" Oh, if you can forgive me I can forgive you ! " 
Her whole attitude had changed. 

The Colonel stood stock-still and looked at his 
wife in a dazed way. 

" Is it really and truly you, Fanny ? " he gasped, 
" or am I losing my senses ? " He passed his hand 
over his face. 

She answered by leaning her head against his 
shoulder and laughing hysterically — a laugh that 
jarred on my nerves because of its theatrical flavor. 
And yet I knew that such a laugh — strained and 
artificial — was intended to hide emotions that led 
far from laughter. 

" Fanny ! Fanny ! " the Colonel cried, " you 
don't know how you have frightened me." 

" I am worse frightened than you were," she re- 
plied. She clung to him as a child might. Pres- 
ently her eyes met mine. She ran to me and threw 
her arms about me. " Oh, William ! You don't 
know what you have saved me from — you and 
Mr. Cowardin ! " 

She ran back to her husband and clung to him 
almost frantically. He caressed her as though she 
were a spoiled child. 

" I thought I was a ruined man, Fanny. I 



336 SISTER JANE. 

knew I deserved to be, but it was so bard to give 
you up. " 

He clung to her and she to him, and I saw then 
that they had come to a clearer understanding than 
had, perhaps, ever existed between them. I saw, 
too, that my whimsical and unexplained prejudices 
had been severely unjust to the lady. For the 
first time in my life I understood to what lengths 
the rage and fury of jealousy will lead a woman 
of spirit. 

" Please make him take his money," said Mandy, 
touching the Colonel's wife gently on the shoulder. 
" I would n't tech it, not to save a thousand lives." 

" I '11 relieve you of it," remarked the Colonel's 
wife with a slight frown. She took the money, 
rolled it tightly, and placed it in her belt. 

" I think we will go now," suggested the Colonel. 
" Jane, I am sorry to have disturbed you. I trust 
you will forgive me." 

" Well, there 's been a good deal of forgiving 
going on around here," said sister Jane. " If you 
feel any better you need n't worry about me. But 
1 '11 say this, I 've got a lots better opinion of you 
than I 'd 'a' had if you had n't 'a' worried me in 
jest the way you have. You ain't half as good as 
you might be, but you 're a heap better than I 
thought you was." 

" But / love him, Jane," the Colonel's wife 
asserted, as if that disposed of the matter. 

" Oh, I hope you do," said sister Jane. " I 
don't expect everybody's stomach to be as weak as 



COLONEL BULLARD'S TROUBLES. 337 

mine when it comes to lovin' folks. Where 's 
Mary all this time while you two are a-prancin' an' 
a-caperin' up and down ? " 

" We must be going, Fanny," the Colonel in- 
sisted. " It would n't do to have that child fright- 
ened at our absence." 

" Mary 's perfectly happy," replied the Colonel's 
wife. " She 's deep in one of William's books. 
But we ought to go. Jane, I hope you 'II not be 
too hard on me. I 'm happier now than I 've been 
in years." 

" I 'm truly glad, Fanny, " replied sister Jane. 
" It takes so mighty little to make folks happy, 
that I wonder there ain't more of it in the world. 
If we keep a sharp lookout we '11 get our share of 
it, I reckon." 

The Colonel and his wife bade us good-night, 
and were going away when we heard footsteps in 
the hallway, and in came Mr. Cowardin, ushering 
in the man I had seen riding in the Moreland 
buggy. He was completely sober now, and I 
knew him at once as Mandy's brother Sandy. She 
knew him, too, and ran to him, crying, " Why 
Bud, what 's the matter ? Have they took you 
prisoner?" 

For answer he said : " Howdy, Mandy ; you 're 
lookin' monstus peart." His sister's hand was on 
his shoulder, but he made no attempt to greet her 
in a brotherly fashion. He stood stolidly, almost 
stupidly, it seemed to me, and the bad opinion I 
had of him grew rapidly worse. 



338 SISTER JANE. 

Mr. Cowardin had summoned the Colonel and 
his wife back, and the lady remarked as she re- 
entered the room, "I had almost forgotten you, 
Mr. Cowardin, and that means I have forgiven you 
for what I thought was your rudeness awhile ago." 

" It means, too," said Mr. Cowardin, " that you 
had forgotten about the interesting information I 
had promised to give you." 

" Yes, I had forgotten it entirely," the Colonel's 
wife confessed. " I am so happy, you know." 

" In that case, we may as well postpone the story 
this man has to teU. Satterlee, I '11 not need you 
until to-morrow." 

" Oh, no, squire ; you can't come that game," 
protested Sandy. " When I go out of that door 
out yonder I ain't comin' back no more tell I send 
fer Mandy. Oh, no, squire ; I don't want nobody 
a-doggin' arter me arter to-night." 

" What is it ? " asked the Colonel. " It is pos- 
sible that he knows about our son, Fanny — our 
darling child that was lost." 

" Oh, is it that f " cried the Colonel's wife. 

Sandy paid no attention whatever to either one. 
" You 've done the right thing by me, squire, an' 
I 'U do the right thing by you. But I '11 teU you 
now, I 'm not gwine to hang on the pleasure of 
that feller — no, I '11 be danged ef I do ! An' 
I '11 not be dogged arter." 

" Then tell what you know, and be done with it," 
said Mr. Cowardin. 

What Sandy told, the reader may have suspected 



COLONEL BULLARD'S TROUBLES. 339 

from the first, though the fact did not dawn on me 
until the man entered the room. He had stolen 
Freddy BuUard, made good his escape, and at 
last dropped him on the wagon trail in the far 
West, where he was found by Mr. Cowardin. 
Sandy Satterlee had no qualms of conscience. He 
was sorry for the child, but he suffered no remorse 
over what he had done. When he had concluded, 
he paused a moment, and then said : — 

" Now, ef there 's anybody aroun' here that wants 
to know why I took the baby jest let 'em up an' 
say so, an' I '11 tell 'em why. An' ef there 'a any- 
body here that wants to drag me up in court about 
it, let 'em drag." 

The Colonel, holding his wife's hand in one of 
his, patted it gently, as he replied : " No, sir ; there 
is no one to make any complaint. My friends here 
all know why you took the child. You caused the 
innocent to suffer ; but that was my fault — all 
my fault. I have taken all the blame. I know 
that the Almighty has not entirely forsaken me, 
for He has had my boy restored to me." 

Sandy seemed to be very much disappointed at 
this, or else I mistook the expression of his face. 
He rubbed his hand over his beard in a dazed way. 

" Dang it all, squire ! " he exclaimed, as he 
turned to Mr. Cowardin. " I allowed I 'd git my 
head took oflf over here, an' I come primed to do 
some taking on my own hook." 

" Then you 'd better take yourself off somewhere 
and try to I'arn to be honest," said sister Jane 



340 SISTER JANE. 

quick as a flash. "You ain't worth the powder 
an' lead it 'd take to kill you." 

" Phew ! " whistled Sandy under his breath. 
" Show me the door, squire, an' I '11 jest hop across 
the street an' jump in bed." 

When Sandy was gone, the Colonel's wife was 
wild to see Freddy ; she insisted that he should be 
roused from his sleep so that she might carry him 
home. But Mr. Cowardin was not to be prevailed 
upon. He would not permit the child (as he said) 
to jump out of sleep into conditions so new to his 
experience ; and though the Colonel's wife added 
both tears and threats to her entreaties, Mr. Cow- 
ardin remained obdurate. For one more day, he 
said, the child should be his. Then Mrs. BuUard 
changed her ground. Might she see her child as 
he lay sleej)ing ? Certainly, if she would solemnly 
promise not to arouse him. So the mother and 
father, with Mr. Cowardin, sister Jane, and myself, 
went on tiptoe to the lad's bedside. And he made 
a beautiful j)icture as he lay there, rosy with health, 
dreaming pleasant dreams that brought a faint 
smile to his half-parted lips. His mother crept 
toward him and gazed at him with clasped hands, 
smiling, although the tears ran down her cheeks. 
Then, quick as a flash, she stooped and kissed him. 
The child stirred, but did not open his eyes. 

" Oh, I hoped he would wake ! " she whispered, 
as she turned away. 

" I thought so," said Mr. Cowardin in a warning 
tone. 



COLONEL BULLARD'S TROUBLES. 341 

" Oh, I think it is cruel not to allow us to take 
our child home ! " said the Colonel's wife. She 
seemed to be greatly agitated. 

" It may seem so," replied Mr. Cowardin. " But 
his mind must be prepared for the great change 
that has taken place in his condition. I must 
teach him " — he paused, looked hard at the flame 
of the candle, and stroked his beard — " that there 
are others he must care for more than he has ever 
cared for me." 

"Might we not be depended on to do that?" 
The voice of the Colonel's wife was gentle, but 
there was something about it that jarred on my 
nerves. 

"That is the trouble, madam," said Mr. Cow- 
ardin ; " that is a part of the infliction. But you 
will have to excuse me." He crossed the hallway, 
went into the lad's room, and closed the door after 
him. 

By one word, sister Jane covered his retreat and 
changed the current of our thoughts. " Which one 
of you had the good manners to thank the man for 
what he has done ? " she asked bluntly. 

Mrs. BuUard started impulsively into the lad's 
room again, but sister Jane stopped her. 

" Oh, I want to get on my knees and thank him, 
Jane. I '11 not speak above a whisper." 

" No ; don't go in there. There 's plenty of 
time for thanks. Go home and dream over your 
good luck," said sister Jane. 

Whereupon the Colonel and his wife bade us 



342 STSTER JANE. 

good-night, and went home by way of the street In- 
stead of by way of the garden. 

It was owing to this fact that Mary missed them 
when she came running through the garden. She 
was laughing when she entered the room, but her 
face wore a scared expression, and I thanked 
Heaven that she had not seen and heard all that 
had hapjDened near where she now stood. 

She had been reading, she said, and had not 
noticed how quiet the house was until she closed 
her book. The servants had all retired, and she 
went to her mother's room. Finding no one there 
she roused the house girl and searched the house. 
Then she came running through the garden, think- 
ing to find her mother talking to sister Jane. She 
was surprised that her father had also paid us a 
Arisit, and seemed pleased, too. 

" I could teU you some mighty good news," re- 
marked sister Jane, " but I reckon I '11 have to 
leave it to William as he takes you back home. 
If you stay to hear it your folks '11 think you 've 
run away." 

So, as we walked through the garden, the weather 
being warm and fine, I told her as briefly as I 
could (suppressing Sandy Satterlee's motive alto- 
gether, and making him out a worse villain than he 
really was — for which I hope Heaven will forgive 
me) how her brother had been stolen, and how he 
had been recovered and brought back by Mr. Cow- 
ardin. Whereupon, Mary, womanlike, insisted on 
going back to see her brother as he lay asleep. I 



COLONEL SULLARD'S TROUBLES. 343 

told her the objections to this, and protested as 
strongly as I could where Mary was concerned, 
but she pleaded so prettily and with such sweet 
eloquence, that I was fain to turn back with her 
and to be the means of gratifying her desire to see 
once more the brother she had long mourned as 
4ead. 

We returned, therefore, much to the surprise of 
sister Jane. Mr. Cowardin was very gracious in 
the matter. He was willing that Mary should see 
her brother, and I noticed that he did not lay her 
under the injunction of silence. She stood by the 
lad's bed and gazed on him with heaving bosom. 
Then she knelt at the bedside, burying her face 
in her hands. She came out smiling, beautifully 
through her tears. 

" How can I thank you ? " she cried, giving 
Mr. Cowardin both her hands. He held them, I 
thought, a trifle longer than good taste demanded, 
regarding her all the while as if his mind were far 
afield. My idea of his violation of good taste, or 
etiquette, or whatever you may please to call it, 
was blown to the four winds by his next words. 

"It would please me very much," he replied, 
" to hear you call me ' Uncle Clarence ' the next 
time I see you." 

" But if you are not Uncle Clarence ? " Mary 
suggested in a half -frightened way. 

" But if I am," he insisted. 

" I don't understand," said Mary, turning away 
from him and going to sister Jane. 



344 SISTER JANE. 

" No, it is not easy for a little girl to under- 
stand," lie remarked with something like a sigh. 
" But no matter. It is not absolutely necessary for 
you to call me ' Uncle Clarence.' " 

" But I want to, if " — 

" If he 's the genuine article, guaranteed not to 
rip in the seams or frazzle at the sleeves," laughed 
Mr. Cowardin. 

" Wait ! I '11 tell you whether he 's your Uncle 
Clarence or not," said sister Jane. " Hold this 
candle, William." She put on her " sewing-specs," 
as she called them, went forward in a business-like 
way, placed one hand over Mr. Cowardin's beard 
and the other over his mouth, turned his face to 
the left and then to the right, and subjected him 
to the closest inspection. She saw what poor Mrs. 
Beshears must have seen the night she scrutinized 
the gentleman's countenance. 

" If it ain't him you may kill me dead ! " she 
exclaimed, turning to Mary. " I ought to 'a' 
know'd him long ago. Clarence Bullard ! what 
on earth do you mean by changing your name 
and acting like this ? What have you done to be 
ashamed of your own name ? I hope to the Lord 
you ain't one of MurreU's men." 

"I haven't changed my name at all," he said, 
laughing genially. " I merely lopped off the Bul- 
lard when I left home." 

" It brought you good luck, I reckon," remarked 
sister Jane. " Mary here will have to change her 
name before she 's right happy." 



COLONEL BULLARD'S TROUBLES. 345 

And Mary, innocent child, not seeing the deep 
meaning of the words, merely laughed at the con- 
ceit, as she said : — 

" My uncle's name was Clarence Cowardin Bul- 
lard. It is written out so in all his school-books. 
Oh, I hope you are he ! " she cried still doubtfully. 
" I should be so happy ! " 

"Go and be happy then, my dear. You cer- 
tainly deserve to be the happiest woman in the 
world. Good-night ! " She ran to him and kissed 
him, at which he seemed to be mightily pleased. 

I may as well say here that, to my mind, there 
is nothing so stupid as a mystery that seems to be 
without excuse, and I could not, for the life of me, 
imagine why Clarence BuUard shotdd change his 
name and go strolling about the country from post 
to pillar. I think he saw something of this in my 
face, for he seized the first opportunity, when there 
was no one to hear him but sister Jane and myself, 
to touch upon the matter. 

" A man never has an idea of his own until he 's 
thirty," he remarked. 

"Thirty!" exclaimed sister Jane. "You'd 
better say eighty ! " 

" 'T would come nearer the mark," he replied. 
" But I was a mere lad, though a pretty wild one, 
when I left home. I had a tremendous quarreL 
with my brother, and fresh fuel was added to mjr 
anger by the fact that he told me some very un- 
wholesome truths about my conduct. At bottom, 
as I know now, I was more disgusted with myself 



346 SISTER JANE. 

than with him, but I was sure then that I hated 
him so vigorously and resented his authority so 
keenly that I despised the very name of Bullard. 
The feeling was so strong in me that it was months 
before it cooled down, and by that time I had 
lopped off the Bullard part of my name. Even 
then I was sure I had done right, and for years I 
hugged the delusion that my brother had driven 
me from home with the intention of robbing me of 
my share of the property. The truth is, he never 
drove me from home at all, but simply refused to 
supply me with funds until I had reformed." 

" He did n't want to be Satan's banker," re- 
marked sister Jane, " no matter how close he got 
to the Old Boy in other ways." 

" Precisely so," he assented with a smile. " It 
was not until I found the child, and began to feel 
that I had a responsibility on my shoulders, that 
I began to realize what a fool I had been. Don't 
be deceived in me," he said with a more serious 
air than I had ever seen him assume. " It is only 
very lately — only during the last half dozen years 
— that I have played the part of a gentleman. The 
rest of the time I have played the part of a vaga^ 
bond. Don't imagine I was a very nice man when 
you saw me at the circus, or that I had any kind 
feelings for my brother. What I wanted to do 
was to find his child and restore him with the words : 
' That is the way I repay you for robbing me of my 
own ! ' I was a vagabond, indeed, but a romantic 
one, don't you think? " 



XXIV. 

THE END OF THE SKEIN. 

Once more I walked with Mary through the 
garden. The September dew had moistened the 
air, and saturated it with the rich perfume of the 
roses that had now begun to renew the glory of 
their springtime bloom. Though I was with Mary, 
I had a sense of loneliness that I found troublesome 
to account for. Whether the sensational events 
of the past few hours had depressed me, or whether 
my own thoughts had suddenly taken on a melan- 
choly hue and flavor I could not say. 

We walked along in silence until nearly opposite 
the summer-house that stood in the middle of the 
garden. Finally Mary spoke : — 

" Oh, I am so happy and thankful ! " she cried. 
" It is just like a story in a book." 

"No," said I; "in books of the lighter kind 
chance and accident try to play the part of Provi- 
dence, but neither one is orderly enough. It was 
no accident that caused your Uncle Clarence to 
bring Freddy back." 

I then told her all the circumstances, as Clarence 
BuUard had told them to me. 

" Well, we have found what we lost," she said 
at last. 



348 SISTER JANE. 

" No, we have not," I replied. I was not too 
melancholy to be contentious. " I have lost some- 
thing that I cannot find again and never expect to." 

" Oh ! " she cried. Then, after a pause, " What 
was it ? " 

" Why, years ago I lost a little sweetheart, and 
I have never been able to find her since." 

" Did she die ? " Mary asked. She spoke in so 
low a tone that I barely caught the words. 

" Oh, no ! " I replied with a miserable attempt 
at levity ; " she just grew up and ' from me fled,' 
as Jincy Meadows said in the song." 

She made no response, but, somehow, we had 
paused under the stars in the garden walk, and 
the odor of the roses wrapped us round. I was 
never more frightened in my life, and my heart 
went down into my shoes as I suddenly asked my- 
self what sister Jane would say if she could have 
heard what I had already said, and could see me 
standing there staring at Mary like a fool. The 
thought made me more desperate than ever, and 
I made another plunge. 

" Yes ; I lost my little sweetheart in the summer- 
house yonder. She put her arms around my neck, 
kissed me, and said she would always be my little 
sweetheart. She was only twelve years old, but 
after that she gradually disappeared, and a young 
lady appeared in her place." 

" Do you really remember that ? " Mary asked, 
looking me in the face. 

" Is it so easy to forget such things ? " 



THi: END OF THE SKEIN. 349 

She made no reply but looked off into the night. 
" Do you remember it ? " I asked. 

Still she made no reply, but the dim light of the 
stars showed me something in her face that was 
more eloquent than any words could have been. 
And I drew her toward me and held her in my 
arms, and began at that instant a new life and a 
new experience blissful beyond all expression. 

How long we stood there I do not know. It was 
Mary herself who brought me back to the world 
and its affairs. 

" Please, please tell me what you could see in 
me to be afraid of ? " 

A dozen other questions she put to me none of 
which I could answer. When I bade her good- 
night at last, and turned away, she called me back. 

" Tell me truly," she said, " were n't you just 
a little bit jealous of Uncle Clarence when you 
thought he was Mr. Cowardin ? " 

" More than a little," I replied with such em- 
phasis as to cause her to laugh. 

There was a pause after this and I stood awk- 
wardly waiting to be dismissed. 

" Well, sir ? " she suggested demurely. 

" Good-night ! " I said again, but still stood 
waiting. She came very close to me. 

" Is that the way you say good-night ? " It was 
the sweetest challenge that Innocence ever gave to 
Timidity, and though she blushed mightily, I did 
not allow the challenge to pass. 

I returned home in a very exalted state of mind. 



350 SISTER JANE. 

as may well be supposed. I seemed to be walking 
on the air. Unconsciously I was whistling a gay 
melody when I entered sister Jane's room, and the 
sound was so unusual, coming from me, that she, 
plodding away with her sewing, looked up in sur- 
prise. 

"You must 'a' had a mighty tough time toting 
Mary home," she said as I seated myself. "I 
allowed she must 'a' tripped over an ant-hill and 
broke her neck, poor gal." 

" What put that idea in your head ? " I inquired. 

" Why, you 've been mighty nigh a half hour 
walking up to Cephas BuUard's and back ag'in. 
I can shet my eyes and go and come in less 'n five 
minutes, and not be bellowsed neither." 

I vouchsafed no explanation, and she went on 
with her work. I tried to sit quietly in the chair, 
but the effort was beyond me. I crossed and re- 
crossed my legs, moved my feet about and con- 
stantly changed my position, and caught myself 
unconsciously snapping my thumbs and fingers. 

" What did Mary have to say about her uncle? " 
asked sister Jane. 

"Oh, Mary ! " I replied, coming back to earth. 
My thoughts were so abstract and unusual that 
even the name of my dearest had a strange soimd 
when spoken by other lips. " Well, Mary did n't 
have much to say." 

Sister Jane looked at me again, and this time 
more narrowly. 

" What under the sev'm stars has come over 



THE END OF THE SKEIN. 351 

you, William Wornum ? You 're setting there 
acting for all the world like a jumping-jack ! 
Have you got the fidgets? And what are you 
grinning at ? You look like you 'd seen a monkey 
show out there in the garden." Then the truth 
seemed to dawn on her, and she burst out laughing, 
and laughed till the tears came in her eyes. " I '11 
bet a thrip to a ginger-cake that Mary got you in a 
corner out there in the garden and asked you to 
marry her." 

" She did nothing of the kind ! " I cried, embar- 
rassment lending more heat to my words than the 
occasion demanded. 

"I know better, William Wornum. I told 
Mary no longer than yesterday that if she ever got 
you, she 'd have to pop the question herself. And 
now it 's happened ! She 's asked you to marry her, 
and you 've told her you 'd have to think the mat- 
ter over before you made up your mind." 

" Nonsense ! What do you take me for, sister 
Jane ? " I cried. 

" For a simpleton that has had his head between 
the leds of books so long that he don't know day- 
light when he sees it," she replied. 

» Oh, don't I ? You '11 know better shortly." 

The humor that danced in her eyes faded away 
into a tenderer expression. She took up her work 
again, and spoke as if addressing it : — 

" I wish I may die if I don't believe he 's had 
sense enough to see what everybody knows ! " 

" What is that? " I inquired. 



362 SISTER JANE. 

" Why, that you and Mary Bullard have been 
head over heels in love wi' one another sence the 
year 1." 

" Well, good-night," I said. 

" Wait ! " She put by her work, came to me, 
pushed the hair back from my forehead, and kissed 
me. " The Lord knows, if she loves you half as 
well in her way as I do in mine — and I believe in 
my heart she does — you '11 be the happiest man 
in the world." 

Though my dear sister has been dead for years, 
I can close my eyes now and feel the gentle touch 
of her hands, and hear the notes of love and tender- 
ness ringing true in the tones of her voice. 

The day after my memorable experience in the 
garden with Mary — an experience that softened 
and subdued all the events of my life both before 
and after — Jincy Meadows came to see Mandy 
Satterlee. He came dressed in his best, as usual, 
but this time he wore a different air. There was 
something more decisive in his manner. I chanced 
to be in my room when he knocked, and I opened 
the door and invited him in. 

" Squire," he said, " did you ever ast a gal to 
have you?" 

The question was so sudden and unexpected that 
it took me back as the saying is. 

" That is a leading question, Jincy," I replied ; 
" the court will have to rule it out." 

" Danged if I don't believe you have, and that 
right lately ! " he burst out after regarding me a 



THE END OF THE SKEIN. 363 

moment. " If it 's so, I hope Miss Mary is the one 
you ast." 

" She is too good for me, Jincy," I remarked. 

" Oh, I know that, sqiiire. I know that mighty 
well," he assented plumply. " She 's too good for 
anybody, when it comes right down to the plaia 
facts. But somehow I 've allers coupled you two 
together in my dreams. Hundreds of times in my 
sleep I 've seen Miss Mary and you a-walkin' along, 
and Mandy and me a-comin' along behind. And 
if one half of the dream is to come true, I hope to 
gracious the other half will too." 

" I hope so, too," I said. 

" Honest, squire ? " he asked eagerly. 

" Why, certainly. Why not ? " 

" I 'm mighty glad of it, squire ; and I tell you 
now, I 've come to see Mandy about them very 
dreams. Now, how can I git a fair chance for to 
see her by her own 'lone self, as it were? " 

" Now is your opportunity, Jincy — as good as 
you '11 ever have. Sister Jane has gone shopping, 
and Mandy is in the room back there doing some 
mending." 

He hesitated a moment. " Squire, do I have to 
holla ' Hello ! ' in the woods, and ring a cow-bell 
before I go in there where she 's at ? " 

I told him there was no need for any formality 
in the matter, and invited him to go right in. He 
shook my hand with humorous gravity. 

" Good-by, squire. If you 're writin' any letters 
to anybody soon, remember me to all kind friends 



354 SISTER JANE. 

I love so dear, and over my grave shed one bright 
tear." 

With that Jincy walked down the hallway, tread- 
ing so lightly that I could hardly hear his footsteps 
on the floor. Presently I heard Mandy give a 
little scream. The hallway conveyed every sound 
to me through the open doors. 

" Oh ! " she. cried ; and then after a pause, 
" Jincy Meadows ! you oughter be ashamed of 
yourself to come slippin' in that a-way. Where 's 
everybody ? How did you git in ? " 

" I crawled under the door, but don't tell any- 
body ; they 'd never believe it," Jincy replied. 

" You might 'a' knocked," protested Mandy. 

" I 've knocked about so much that I don't want 
to do any more knockin'. Folks might think it 
was my trade." 

" Oh, go off, Jincy ! " cried Mandy ; and then, 
"Have a cheer. I dunno where Miss Jane is." 

" No, I '11 not set down. I 've jest come to teU 
you a dream." 

" Oh, you 're allers a^dreamin', Jincy." 

" I don't mind it when I don't wake up hungry." 

" Set down an' tell me your dream." 

Whereupon Jincy told the dream he had hinted 
of to me, only amplifying some of the details. 

" Now you reckin that dream 'U ever come true, 
Mandy ? " he asked. 

" It oughtn't to," she replied. 

"That's mighty hard on the squire and Miss 
Mary," said Jincy calmly. 



THE END OF TEE SKEIN. 355 

" Oh, I was n't talkin' about them" protested 
Mandy. 

" What 's the reason the other part ought n't to 
come true?" he insisted. 

" I can't tell you, Jincy, but I can show you." 

I heard her cross the hall, and stupidly wondered 
what reason she could show him. Then as she re- 
crossed the haU, the truth came to me in a flash. 
She had gone to fetch her child which was taking 
its morning nap. 

" That 's the reason, Jincy," she said sadly, as 
she returned to the room. 

There was a pause, during which I judged that 
Jincy was subjecting the child to a critical exami- 
nation. 

" I 've seen bigger reasons," he remarked after 
a while, " but not any that was more plumper, as 
you may say." 

I heard him walk slowly out of the room to the 
wide back entrance, where he stood perhaps half a 
minute chirruping to a mocking-bird. Then I 
heard him walk into the room again. 

" Why, what in the world are you cryin' for, 
Mandy ? I jest stepped out on the back porch to 
laugh." 

" What was you laughin' at ? " she cried with 
mingled grief and indignation. 

" Why, because you said I was going to git in a 
dispute wi' that young un." 

" I never said so," she declared. 

" Why, you did, and if the squire was here I 'd 



356 SISTJER JANE. 

prove it. You said the young un was a reason. 
Now a reason is a argyment, and a argyment 's a 
dispute, and on account of the dispute the most 
principal part of my dream could n't come true." 

" Well, I did n't mean to say all that, Jincy." 

" That 's what I allowed. Now, I 'm not dis- 
putin' wi' the young un, because I want to give it 
the identical thing it needs." 

" What 's that ? " inquired Mandy. 

" A daddy ! " responded Jincy promptly, and, 
as I thought, bluntly. " Now, I '11 ast you why 
that part of my dream can't come true ? " 

" I ain't good enough fer you, Jincy." Mandy's 
tone was full of despair. 

" Well, you know I ain't much, nohow," said 
Jincy. 

" I don't know any sech of a thing," cried 
Mandy. " You 're better 'n anybodj' I know." 

" Then allers take the best when it 's no trouble 
to git it. What about the dream ? Can't it come 
true?" 

" Oh, I reckon." 

" Don't reckon." 

" Oh, go off, Jincy ; I '11 have to say Yes to git 
rid of you, you pester me so ! " 

After a little Jincy came out, but I made it con- 
venient to be standing on the sidewalk by the 
gate. 

" You need n't remember me to all kind friends 
I love so dear, squire," he said, shaking my hand 
again. " The dream done the business. So long ! " 



THE END OF THE SKEIN. 357 

Mandy's announcement of the affair to sister 
Jane was characteristic. 

" I reckon I 'm the biggest fool in the world," 
she said by way of a beginning, and then went on 
with whatever work she was doing. 

" What 's the matter now ? Have you gone and 
broke a piece of my blue chany ? " sister Jane 
inquired. 

" It 's lots worse 'n that," replied Mandy, laugh- 
ing. 

" If it is you 'd better be laughing on the other 
side of your mouth. What is it ? " 

" Oh, jest me an' Jincy," said Mandy, moving 
about the room more briskly than ever. 

" WeU, what about you an' Jincy ? " 

" Did n't I tell you I was a fool ? " Mandy ex- 
claimed with well-affected surprise. " I ain't got 
a grain of sense. Who is Jincy Meadows anyhow ? 
Ever'body says he 's a born loony, an' I 'd a heap 
ruther stay here wi' you-all than to marry him — 
a heap ruther." 

" The stars above ! " cried sister Jane. 

" Ain't it the truth ! " said Mandy, though 
apropos of what I failed to discover. " We 're 
allers a-doin' what we hain't got no more idee of 
doin' than the man in the moon. I declare to 
goodness ! When I think of what a fool I reely 
am, it turns my stomach. But that Jincy Mead- 
ows, he come in here an' taken me so by surprise 
that I did n't know my own name. How he got 
in, I '11 never tell you, but git in he did ; an' when 



oo8 SISTER JANE. 

I up'd an' looked, thar he stood wi' his haii's in 
his pockets an' his mouth wide open. I dunno 
but what his tongue was a-hangin' out. He like to 
'a' skeer'd the life out'n me." 

" Then up you jumped and run to him, an' says, 
' Oh, yes, Jincy ! I '11 have you and thanky too,' " 
remarked sister Jane. 

" Why, Miss Jane ! " Mandy blushed red as 
fire. " Please 'm don't talk like that. We got to 
runnin' on, an' he told me about a dream he had, 
an' a whole lot of fool talk, an', before I know'd 
it, I had done up'd an' tol' him I reckon I 'd 
marry him. If I had n't 'a' done it, I 'd 'a' never 
got rid of him on the face of the earth. I never 
did see anybody that covild pester me like Jincy 
Meadows can. I never had no more idee of tellin' 
that man that I 'd marry him than I had of flyin' 
— not a bit." 

" Well, you might 'a' done worse," said sister 
Jane. " Where you 'd 'a' done better, I don't 
know. Jincy Meadows has got more sense than you 
and me and William all put together." 

" You reckon ! " exclaimed Mandy with a tone 
akin to awe in her voice. 

" I know it ! " sister Jane declared. 

" I don't keer," Mandy protested ; " his havin' 
sense don't hender me from bein' a fool. I know 
I look like one." 

" It 's mighty easy to be one," was sister Jane's 
comment, and there, for the time, the matter 
dropped. 



THE EXD OF THE SKEIX. 359 

Late that afternoon Clarence Bullard came in 
with our lad. The two had been off in the woods, 
and there, in the solitude of the forest, Freddy was 
told the facts of his history that were already fami- 
liar to sister Jane and myself. The lad did n't 
seem to be very much elated over the change in 
his fortunes. 

" Just think of me calling Dan ' Uncle Clar- 
ence ' ! " he said with fine scorn. " I '11 bet they '11 
want me to call Miss Jane and Mr. William by 
some new name. I won't do it ! " 

" You don't have to, honey. Jest call us any- 
thing that pops into your mind, and if we know 
you 're arcallin' us we '11 come a-runnin' ! " remarked 
sister Jane soothingly. 

" Sure enough ? " The frown on the lad's face 
gave place to a pleased expression. 

" Try it some day," said sister Jane with great 
apparent earnestness. 

The youngster laughed, but the puzzled expres- 
sion soon came back on his face. " But if I was 
to call Dan ' Uncle Clarence,' he would n't come ; 
he ain't used to it." 

" Call me plain Dan just as long as you want to," 
said his uncle. 

" Yes, but I 'U know I ought not to," the lad in- 
sisted. " I don't mind saying ' sister Mary,' but all 
the rest of it will choke me before I get through 
with it — I just know it will." 

But we managed to soothe him after a while, and 
when he had dressed himself in his best, which was 



360 SISTER JANE. 

as good as money could buy in our village, lie went 
with his uncle to his father's house. Both wanted 
sister Jane and myself to go with them, the boy 
being keen for our company ; but we thought that 
our presence at such a time would be in the nature 
of an intrusion. So we sat at home and sent our 
kindest thoughts and best wishes along with our 
friends. 

It was all a seven days' wonder in the village, 
especially among the negroes, who imagined that 
only a miracle could have brought the child safely 
home after so long a time. Old Sol, Colonel Bul- 
lard's man-of-all-work, who always pretended to be 
wiser than anybody else, was not behindhand now. 
When I saw him a day or two afterwards, cleaning 
up and clearing away the summer's growth in the 
garden, he leaned on his rake long enough to say : 

" I know'd in reason, Marse William, dat dat ar 
chil' wa'n't no common chil'. Kaze he useter 
come down yander ter de stable whar I wuz at, an' 
he 'd sorter mope 'roun' like he los' sumpin'. I 
say, I did, 'What de matter, honey?' He say, 
' Look like ter me dey ought ter be a gray boss in 
dat stall dar, an' a side-saddle hangin' on dat peg 
dar.' I say, ' Dey useter be dar many 's de day 
gone by, but how come you ter know it, honey ? ' 
He say, ' I dunno how come. I speck I des up an' 
dremp it.' I shuck my head, I did, an' 'low ter 
myse'f, ' Uh-uh ! sumpin' n'er gwine ter happen 
'roun' yer sho.' An' you see yo'se'f, Marse Wil- 
liam, what done happen." 



THE END OF THE SKEIN. 361 

It turned out that the lad really had a vague 
recollection about his parents and his home, but he 
was ashamed to say anything about it at the time. 

Not long after the episodes that have been re- 
lated, another event occurred that had a sobering 
effect on some of our people. The day had been 
sultry for September, and for hours not a breath 
of wind stirred the leaves on the trees. About 
three o'clock black clouds began to roll in from the 
southwest. Among them, and in the centre, was a 
great whorl of dun-colored vapor that seemed to 
rise higher and reach lower than the rest. 

Before I could realize it — almost before I could 
shut the doors — a terrific storm burst upon us 
with a roar so deafening and a force so violent that 
it seemed as if the great globe on which we stood 
would be shaken to its very centre, if not torn apart. 
It was a roar such as might be expected if the 
thunders of heaven should drop from the sky and 
run along the ground trailing their deafening 
chorus after them. The storm was over and gone 
in five minutes, being followed by a downpour of 
hail. Then the air grew cold as winter, and a half 
hour afterwards the sun was shining as brightly as 
ever. But the storm left with me a new knowledge 
of the weakness and impotence of man, and with it 
came a feeling of depression almost unaccountable. 
And yet, as I found out afterwards, the centre of 
the storm had passed a mile to the west of us, strik- 
ing fairly across the Beshears place. 

Late that afternoon, Mose, who was still the 



362 SISTER JANE. 

foreman of the place, came knocking at our door 
with a small sack full of gold and silver coins of 
all descriptions - — about five hundred dollars in all. 
The wind had blown the dwelling-house to atoms, 
and in the ruins of one of the chimneys the negroes 
had picked up these coins. 

A feeling of sorrow came over me as I handled 
the money. This was the precious store that had 
been hidden away by Miss Polly and Miss Becky 
— the accumulation of years of pinching and sav- 
ing. The hand of the Almighty had lifted the 
cover from their hoard, and scattered it about with 
the rest of the rubbish. 

I wondered that the negroes did not appropriate 
the money for their own use, and said so. 

" Well, suh," explained Mose, " dat ar money 
b'longed ter Miss Polly and Miss Becky. Dey 
yearned it, an' dey hidden it dar. Hit 's der'n. 
Mo' 'n dat, dey done losted der min's, an' when any- 
body taken money f um folks like dat, sump'n bleeze 
ter happen to um. Dat what dey tells me." 

I placed the money in custody of the court, glad 
to be rid of the hoard and have it off my mind. 

What remains to tell has practically all been 
told. Heaven was kind to us all, and especially to 
me, singling me out, as it seemed, for as much 
happiness as ever falls to man's lot in this world. 
I saw, too, that, though the wounds that sin makes 
may be deep and grievous, the sorrow that repent- 
ance brings can heal and hide every one. We saw 
Mandy Satterlee frequently after she became Mrs. 



THE END OF THE SKEIN. 363 

Meadows, and though she was cheerful and con- 
tented, the light of penitence was always in her 
eyes. 

As for Colonel Bullard, he gave his closing years 
to good deeds, and if penitence did not shine in his 
eyes, it manifested itself in his life and made its 
influence felt throughout the community.